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Look No Further: We Found a Great Feminist Gift for (Aspiring) Tech Nerds

Girls at Computer

Lara Callender Hogan, a senior engineering manager at Etsy, has recently released her book on web design, with all proceeds going to women-in-STEM organizations.

Hogan’s book, Designing for Performance: Weighing Aesthetics and Speed, covers a variety of options for web designers, like how best to tackle slow-loading images in different coding languages. Hogan is the perfect person to write about web design, since, in addition to her work at Etsy, she has worked for other tech companies like Dyn and Endurance International Group. I’ve read (ahem, part of) the book, and the writing is easy to understand with great practical advice about how to think about a website’s users and customers. Even though the book is (probably) geared toward adults, there’s not anything so inherently technical about it that a teenager would struggle with it—even a teenager who was not particularly knowledgeable about coding.

I wish I had this book around when I first started playing with code years ago, because it would have changed how I thought about my code’s structure. I can guarantee that when I fooled around with code on certain Harry Potter message boards (RIP, my baby coding playgrounds), I was not thinking about code maintenance. My favorite part of Hogan’s book discussed working in a company or organization as a coder, suggesting the best practices at both the team and individual level. She suggests not making it one person’s responsibility to always be cleaning up code. In the book, she calls these people “performance cops and janitors,” though I personally think of it like this: None of your coworkers want to play your parents and clean up your mess, especially if they are already playing your parents at home. Overall, the book has thoughtful, clear writing and solid advice.

Although Hogan has released the book for free, in both print and e-formats, proceeds from those who pay for the book go to organizations that support women and girls in STEM, including Girls Develop It, Women Who Code, Girls Can Code Too, Black Girls Code, and Girls with Gadgets. One of those projects, Girls with Gadgets, for example, is a project designed to educate young girls using engineering tools like Roominate, which is designed to teach girls about electrical engineering. So, it is possible that your money might be doing double duty: supporting a feminist STEM project and a feminist STEM startup. Hell yeah.

It’s a little too early for most of us to do our Christmas (or other winter holiday) shopping, but this is a great gift idea for anyone who has, say, a friend or daughter or niece who is into coding and web design. Plus, you know your money will go to someone else’s friend or daughter or niece who’s building the best new social network that you’ll get attached to and then have to pry yourself off of at one o’clock in the morning.

Courtney Hilden is a blog editor and poetry reader at Bayou Magazine. She has been published at Quaint Magazine, among others.

(via Lara Hogan, image via Flikr)

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