On the eve of Women’s Day, we had the opportunity to interact with a talented female coder from India, Anushi Maheshwari (anushi), whose coding prowess and unflinching focus is breaking gender boundaries. We all have a different story about how each of us started to code, and this time we bring to you Anushi’s coding journey. As a girl who learned programming skills in school, Anushi tells us of the sheer determination and hardwork that has made her achieve success in this field dominated by ‘hims’.
Tell us something about yourself!
I am a final year student pursuing Electronics Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur.
When and how did you develop an interest in coding?
I knew JAVA since 10th grade but because of lack of a personal laptop and an internet connection, it was very late before I started competitive coding.The first challenge I participated seriously was the October Long Challenge 2016 when I was 18 but it was during the previous year’s summer vacation when I had better internet at my disposal that I spent improving myself, actively participating in May and June Long Challenges.
What sparked your interest in the field of competitive programming?
I always had a liking for it. When I first learned programming, I used to think of the best way of doing that and that’s how I went forward. Later I was fascinated with the amazing CodeChef Platform. For me, the best thing about CodeChef is their long challenge and goodies 😉 I also like the concept of hacks on Codeforces.
Any obstacles that you faced?
The coding environment is something that hindered my growth because I couldn’t find anyone to help me with the problems I faced initially and the major reason behind this was that there were not many girl coders (and only a few boys were good in CP) in HBTI. Another roadblock was my branch (Electronics Engineering). Till today, I have a tough time juggling between the 75% attendance required in Electronics classes and my self-taught Computer Science subjects. But when so many people tackle such issues, why can’t I? 🙂
How did you overcome these obstacles?
It took me a while to realize that no magic is going to happen to help me understand algorithms. I had only me. I made a habit of not giving up on any topic until I understood it. I repeated read about the topic from different sources, ran that code in debug mode and saw if I made any progress. If not, I turned to messaging some great coders on Codeforces and I can bet you that 2 out of 5 are always there to help you if you ask a genuine doubt (not a problem of running contest).
Your views on the gender imbalance in competitive programming?
There is no doubt in the fact that there are very few women coders (only 3-4) in top 100 but I think CodeChef is doing it’s best in reducing the gender diversity by giving some extra opportunities to women 🙂
Your message to other women in the field?
The best way to learn to code is solving problems. But don’t always solve easier ones, try to grasp something new with every problem you practice. For this, I think it’s better to practice those next level problems which you were unable to do in the contest other than randomly selecting by yourself. Also, you can connect to me anytime for problems you face and I assure you of my reply (It could take a day or two if I am busy with other stuff but not more than that).
Her story is a simple reflection of the complexities associated with all females trying to come up in the competitive programming world and is truly an example for us all. Team CodeChef appreciates her dedication and perseverance to keep her competitive programming flag flying high amidst all the difficulties she faced and wishes her good luck in all her future endeavours.