Even though I didn’t grow up in a tech-savvy household and couldn’t code my way out of a paper bag, I had one big thing going for me: I looked like I was good at programming.
Over at Slate, Philip Guo writes about his experience being Asian and studying computer science. Unlike many of his peers, he was a complete novice when he started at MIT, but since he “looked the part” no one ever discouraged him or second-guessed his decision.
For instance, whenever I attended technical meetings, people would assume that I knew what I was doing (regardless of whether I did or not) and treat me accordingly. If I stared at someone in silence and nodded as they were talking, they would assume that I understood, not that I was clueless. Nobody ever talked down to me, and I always got the benefit of the doubt in technical settings.