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Code Queens

Code Queens

By: Nicole King

Code is the foundation of software, apps and websites, but writing the stuff often seems the preserve of nerdy boys in dirty glasses. It so is not, as these tech-tastic women demonstrate with skill and verve.


Michelle Garrett

Michelle has a degree in English literature, French and Gender Studies, and fell into coding “mostly from creative frustration”. The 24-year-old is a software engineer at Conde Nast and trains women to code via the Node Girls bootcamp.

“I used to think coding was really approachable and scientific but I think of it more like learning a language and being able to build things.”


Jen Wu

Jen is a self-taught coder who works in customer support and relations. Her passion for coding started with a young love for video games. “It really started with computers first and I was also into art and photography so that slowly transitioned into me wanting to make things,” she says.

“What I find creative about coding is being able to create something that I imagined. For me it’s about making things more fun like they are in games.”


Moriah Costa

Moriah, 25, is a master’s student at City University, works part-time as a fintech reporter and is also an artist. Learning how to code is part of her course, and she’s currently developing a program that teaches people about inflation.

“How I use coding is as a storytelling platform. We try to make something cool but there’s a journalistic reason why we’re doing it.”


Alessia Sannazzaro

Alessia is co-founder of digital agency Code & Wander. She started to develop coding while creating a website for musical discovery app Choosic, another of her initiatives. Establishing the digital agency, she says, makes her “feel fully immersed in the digital world”.

“I find coding is a lot of problem solving. So you want to create something and you need to figure out how to do it. We're always being creative and coming up with new ideas."


Anne Byrne

A software engineer at The Guardian, Anne is also a poet. The 24-year-old built her first website aged seven to host her poetry. She studied neuroscience at university; her first job was headhunter for tech firms such as AirBnb and SkyScanner.

“Growing up I always had a love for technology. I felt like it was an industry that was not built for people like me, only for guys who were into gaming. But then I thought, maybe coding is going to give me the blend of creativity and art with science and mathematical thinking.”


Shabna Zaheer

An iOS developer for the Yoox Net-A-Porter group, Shabna started making websites from a young age and studied software engineering at university. She also studied illustration in her journey to develop content, initially via her own fashion blog.

“I started out in fashion blogging doing all the layouts for my blog and helping others bloggers with their designs. Coding was always a passion of mine because it was a way to create but also a bit of a challenge for your brain.”


Lara Southwell

The head of content for Code Kingdoms, which engages kids with computing, Lara studied broadcast journalism at university. Lara is particularly interested in making sure women are well represented in the field of technology.

“I’m a passionate feminist and I wanted to make sure that girls and people who are from disadvantaged backgrounds get the chance to learn the stem skills that they wouldn’t necessarily learn in school.”


Emily Ip

Emily is an iOS developer who started in technology with a website to care for virtual pets: neopets.com. She has a degree in multimedia and also studied web development, not to mention her masters in mobile development, which she calls “a booming business”.

“I have felt a bit looked down upon because I’m a girl but it’s not intentional. The biggest challenge in my work is asking my senior developers for help. But I’ve learned that asking for help is one of the ways I can move myself up.”


Natalia Baltazar

Natalia, 25, is a former fashion designer from Canada. She moved to London and met a group of software developers. While playing board games they pointed out that she thought like a software developer. Hey presto, she started learning it at free boot camp Founders & Coders.

“Working in technology surprised me simply because I never realised how creative it was. It’s important to ask a lot of questions and learn all that you can. I don’t think girls should feel inferior.”


Photography: Yoshitaka Kono

Creative Direction: Rebekah Roy

Hair & Make-up: Bhavna Patel, Evan Huang and Gaetano Noviello

Fashion Assistant: Giovanna Velasquez

Location: WeWork Spitalfields