Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code – a national non-profit working to close the gender gap in technology – discusses the need for more women in technology, the future of coding and the best digital resources for entrepreneurs.

I Realized The Need For More Women In Technology When…

I saw the gender gap in technology firsthand. I was campaigning for Congress in 2010, and the schools I visited in New York City had a huge disparity in the ways that boys and girls were approaching technology education. As I did more research, I learned that there will be 1.4 million jobs in computing-related fields by 2020 and women are currently on pace to hold just 3% of them. If our country is going to continue to lead in the 21st century, we need to get more women involved in this rapidly growing sector. That starts with education.

Girls Who Code Measures Our Impact By…

Always looking at how many girls we’ve reached through out Clubs and Summer Immersion Programs. When we started in 2012, we had only one Summer Program with 20 girls. Now we have 59 Summer Immersion Programs and nearly 500 Girls Who Code Clubs across the country. We know that teaching girls to code creates a butterfly effect: when you teach one girl, she goes on to teach others. We are so thrilled to have reached almost 10,000 young women to-date and we are continuing to grow.

We Identify Growth Opportunities By…

Getting more girls to join. It is all about changing perceptions of what computer science is, and who a computer scientist is. We need to dispel deeply engrained pop culture myths that coders are geeky guys by introducing girls to female role models and mentors. Our programs are a great place to learn coding in a collaborative, supportive environment. We hope that by starting these programs in cities across the country, we can show girls that coding isn’t just for the boys – it’s for them too.

Where I Envision Girls Who Code In One Year…

By the end of this year, we are on track to reach 10,000 girls. Our goal is to reach 1 million girls by 2020.

The Event That Instilled Giving Back In Me Was…

I knew I wanted to be a public servant from an early age, but it wasn’t until I lost my 2010 congressional race that I realized that I wanted to devote my life to closing the gender gap in technology, and from there I went on to start Girls Who Code. I always tell the girls in our programs that experiencing failure, and rebounding from it, can have positive effects.

How I Set And Track Personal Goals…

Reaching your goals feels great, but with each achievement also comes the risk of failure. I’m proud that I’ve been able to embrace failure, and I think it has helped me immensely in my career. I tell our students at every opportunity that learning from your failures will make you stronger, more confident, and more resilient for whatever comes next!

Tools I Use To Monitor Accomplishments And Challenges…

Celebrate! I like to encourage people to have failure parties. There’s no better way to come to terms with a setback than being completely open with yourself and others about it.

Basic Coding Is Important For Entrepreneurs Because…

Computer science is the language of the future. In the coming global economy, everything is going to be connected to technology. Whether you’re starting a business or a nonprofit, if you can build a website, digitally manage your resources, or even track important market data, basic coding knowledge will absolutely make you more competitive.

Basic coding knowledge will absolutely make you more competitive.

Coding In The Future Will Be…

A gender-equal sector of our economy. If there will be 1.4 million coding job openings in 2020, that means women must fill half of these positions—more specifically—700,000 coders. Anecdotal evidence tells us that 30% of students with exposure to computer science will continue in the field. This means that 4.6 million adolescent girls will require some form of exposure to computer science education to realize full gender parity. Girls Who Code has set out to reach 25% of those young women needed to realize a world of coding gender parity.

Digital Resources For Entrepreneurs Interested In Learning To Code…

Check out free resources online. There are a ton! I think Khan Academy has great introductory tutorials and a user-friendly coding environment. It’s a good place to start.

My most Inspiring Moment At Girls Who Code…

Every day I’m inspired by the girls’ determination. Coding can be immensely challenging, but they’re always looking to improve. I am reminded every day when I work with our students, that we’re educating the next generation of female technology leaders, and their passion, talent and creativity inspires me. I’m proud to play a role in unlocking their abilities!

My Motto Is…

Embrace failure. There’s no more valuable tool for growing from experience and remaining focused on your passions!