Here are some tips for feminists going into Dev Bootcamp (DBC). Some are likely also applicable to other programming bootcamps, and tech in general.
Be wary of investing too much in the culture
Tech has been documented as a hostile environment to people that are not cishet white men. DBC is not an exception, in the least.
There are lots of things about Dev Bootcamp that are exceptional. The level of honesty on the part of the staff, for one. The effort going into teaching people just enough to get them started as professional developers. The earnest desire to change the culture of tech by teaching students how to be better people.
As a student at DBC, you will probably be told that the students there are responsible for its culture, which is kind of fair — you far outnumber the staff, and your behavior signals what is acceptable to the students who arrive after you. But when you are working on a challenge and hear something utterly depressing, I am here to tell you: you are not responsible for Dev Bootcamp’s culture. You can not undo the dudebro-i-ness of the other people at DBC. You cannot undo the world.
Don’t open up too much
You’ll be spending A LOT of time at Dev Bootcamp. You’ll be pairing with every single one of your classmates, and working on group projects. You’ll get to know these people.
You’ll also be encouraged to be deeply emotionally honest. You’re spending so much time together, and it will be tempting to give in and share a very real part of yourself with your classmates.
But you should be careful. Not all of these people love you and not all of them care about your feelings. Dev Bootcamp itself is a major risk, but the second risk of trusting a group of strangers is one that you should give careful consideration. You might be in an emotional place where it is totally cool and helpful. But honor yourself and what will serve you — not your classmates or the dynamic of your group, and certainly not Dev Bootcamp the business.
Find your people
There will be gems. There will be people who are lovely, respectful, and kind. Once you’ve identified those people, try not to worry about the others. In my experience, the staff are some of the most fascinating, thoughtful people at DBC. They tend to be a bit stretched, so hopefully you’ll find students you connect with. They will be so helpful.
Accept that many people will suck, and move on
Like much of the world, you will be surrounded by people who have never considered what privileges they might have. At DBC, your classmates will be working their asses off to learn how to program. Not all will react gracefully to being told that what they have accomplished so far in life is not purely a function of the effort they have expended and their unique brilliance.
DBC will explicitly introduce them to privilege, and some of them will be jerks about it. As a person who already knows what privilege is and is trying to bring more good into the world, watching people grapple with, reject, and deride social justice might break your heart.
I’m not sure how to avoid that heartbreak, really. Try not to care, I guess. Try not to be so invested in these people that their failures affect your learning. Remember: you are there to learn to code.
You can’t fix Dev Bootcamp, and you can’t fix tech. You can exist in it, you can grow in it, and you can change it, little by little. But since you’re only at DBC for 9 short weeks, I suggest accepting it in its broken state, and focusing on programming instead. The staff can try to teach people to be empathetic. Your time is better spent elsewhere.