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Meet Joanie Davis: empowering girls to code for good

Joanie Davis

Continuing our three-part series highlighting local women in the tech industry, who are navigating often unwelcoming spaces to use their expertise and skill as developers for good, we present you, Joanie Davis from West Michigan and an intern at Collective Idea.

Davis was not always interested in the field of coding and web development, but after enrolling in a course in scientific computer programming at Hope College, where she is currently a senior, Davis was exposed to what she calls a “mixture of creativity, problem solving, and collaboration,” she decided to change her career course and pursue a major in computer science.  “I haven’t regretted it since,” shares Davis.

Because Davis is still growing her skills in code, she has not yet decided on her specialization. Davis has experience in back-end development, a kind of coding that handles database and behavior logic, and also has interest in front-end development, which focuses more on styling and user experience.

“Here at Collective Idea, I've had the opportunity to participate in the development process for web applications that help people plan and coordinate events, manage their company's resource usage, and event keep a better track of whether or not their own programs are running correctly,” says Davis.

For Davis, the biggest challenge is reminding herself that she has a place in the tech industry.

“Most of the guys have a self-confidence in their abilities that stems from messing around with computers since they were kids or young teens. I didn’t start being interested in computers until college and a lot of the time when I’m talking to guys who've been messing around with code for most of their lives, I struggle with the idea that I’ll never catch up to them,” says Davis.

Despite these barriers, Davis has found a place in an industry where she uses her skills to help create programs to help others.

Last summer, computer science professor at Hope College, Mike Jipping worked with Davis and three other students—Natalie Boardway, Joanie Davis, and Meredith Lind—to develop “Bilancio” an iOS application designed to help students with learning disabilities learn budgeting skills. The app is currently being used in Hope’s Ready for Life’s budgeting unit, the college’s program for college-age students with learning disabilities.

“Not every girl is going to want to be a developer, of course. But instead of assuming girls won't want to work with computers, we have to make it easy for them to explore this possibility, and decide for themselves if it's a career they want to pursue,” says Davis.

Michelle Jokisch Polo is Rapid Growth's On The Ground Editor. To connect with Michelle, you can email her at michellejokisch@gmail.com and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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