Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani wants to close the gender gap in computer science.

By Nora Horvath
Updated June 06, 2017
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Reshma Saujani
© Adrian Kinloch all rights reserved
| Credit: Adrian Kinloch

Tech jobs are one of the fastest growing and most important career paths in the U.S., yet only 4 percent of female college freshmen are enrolled in computer science programs. Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, an organization with the mission to close the gender gap in technology, believes this problem is solvable.

Through after school clubs for 6th to 12th graders and summer internship immersion programs for 10th and 11th graders, Saujani has worked with 40,000 girls since Girls Who Code was founded in 2012. Her next big move is the release of two books, a fictional Girls Who Code series for young readers co-written by Stacia Deutsch about a group of girls interested in tech, to show young readers that coding can be cool and fun. The second is a how-to and empowerment book, aimed to make coding accessible for younger girls.

But parents have a big part to play in this too, Saujani argues. While it might be second nature to give girls “girly” toys like dolls, parents can use play moments to introduce their children to the growing world of technology.

“When it comes to encouraging girls to pursue a male-dominated field like technology, parents can introduce their daughters to coding through educational and fun computer games—while managing screen-time limits,” Saujani says. “Through new research with Accenture, we've seen that girls who experience computing in fun ways through games and toys, whether at school or at home, are four times more likely to pursue a career in computing.”

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Possible toys include the SAM Labs Curious Cars Kit or the online Lightbot coding game for kids.

When girls get older, Saujani says parents can encourage girls by enrolling them in local computing clubs or summer camps, like the ones offered by Girls Who Code, to introduce them to new role models that show them how computing is transforming our world.

The first book in Reshma Saujani and Stacia Deutsch’s fictional children’s series, Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code #1 and Saujani’s how-to book, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, will both be released in August.