A few years ago I decided to branch out. Up until that point I had decided to stick to my safe place (coding) because I was afraid that my design skills and product ideas weren’t up to much. I had to take a long look at what motivations and fears were holding me back and how I could overcome them.
Fear #1 – Prejudice
One of the things holding me back was my own preconceived notions about what my role in the workplace was. In the web design business, people have traditionally been shunted into one of two categories; creative or geek.
The Creatives of course get the best rep, they’re cool, they can afford Apple products, they’re smug as they sit in Starbucks updating their Twitter feeds, the male portion of them have cool beards and seem to have no problems finding someone to love. The female portion seem to dress well, visit the gym and usually paint in their free time. All Creatives also like to faff-about with Photoshop and never seem to do any actual work (well… not really, but can you tell I’m a geek yet?) Oh yes.. and these days they’re all writing books *insert eye rolling here*.
The Geeks get the short end of the stick. Usually socially inept, they spend their days basking in the glow of their monitors (they have more than one see), they drink far too much Coke/other caffinated beverages (that don’t have foam and cinammon on them). They know the in’s and out’s of how to run a web-server. They know why Apple sucks and why all these fancy new titles for people who work in the web design business is just a heap of nonsense. The Geeks wish they could look like Creatives and get the girls, but are too busy figuring out how an awesome API works or which framework they can rip apart next. If they were in the presence of a member of the opposite sex, they’d better hope the other person is a geek too or it’s going to be really awkward.
Luckily these stereotypes are already breaking down. Geeks can be cool.. Geeks can be geeky.. Creatives.. can be.. geeky too I suppose (haven’t met one yet but I’m always willing to learn new things). The point is that none of us need to stay in the ‘roles’ we’re assigned. By being a female geek, I was already breaking the geeky cliché. Also the web design business has been changing for the past few years (now designers are dying to learn how to code) so I really needed to stop being so prejudiced against myself and the notion of being a ‘creative’ (I’m still struggling with the last bit).
The problem with accepting that you are now going to be designing as well as geeking was a tricky one to grasp. I still consider myself a web developer and I actually do a small shudder when I think of myself as a ‘Creative’ (note the use of quotes). I do however.. faff-about with Photoshop so I guess it’s just something I’ll have to live with. Nex up my plan is to get rid of my prejudices towards Creatives and by this time next year, I’ll be a millionaire.