I'm A Girl Who Codes





Posts tagged with ‘girlcode’

Friday Faves: Margo Hayes


Meet Margo Hayes, a and a professional rock climber who is taking bravery and problem solving to new heights. She started rock climbing at the age of 10 and loves the physical and mental challenge that comes with it. “Every boulder climb is like a puzzle to me and it’s fun to be able to solve it.” says Hayes. 

As a member of the USA National rock climbing team, Margo spends a huge portion of her time training, traveling, and competing. We interviewed her about the technology that keeps her connected while she’s on the road. Check out Margo’s Friday Faves below. 

Margo’s Faves: 

1. My Digital Camera: I love images. Ever since I was small, I was interested in art and photography. The thing that’s so special about the digital camera is that it’s so easy to use and you can see the results right off the bat. Every image is a quick moment in time but it can have an entire story behind it. That’s what’s really special about being a photographer. Everyone sees that moment but - as the photographer - that moment in time can be really personal. 


Photo credit: Eddie Fowke

2. My iPhone: For so many reasons. There is so much technology attached to it. Once again, the camera. The ability to text and email in the same piece of technology is also so convenient. With the amount I travel for rock climbing, I have contacts around the world and have many different ways to contact them. There’s wechat in Asia and WhatsApp in Europe. Facebook is also really incredible because you can message people all around the world just from your iPhone!


Photo Credit: Uli Fernandez

3. Instagram: It’s really amazing because everyone shares things that they want the world and their friends to see. You can also search for different locations. For example, if I’m going to climb somewhere, I’ll search the hashtags and the locations and see what’s been posted about that location. Again, this is a visual technology because I’m a visual person. 

4. FitBit: I wear a FitBit, which helps when I’m training for a competition and a climb. It’s really fascinating to challenge myself through technology. I’d like to know how it works. 


Photo credit: Three Peak Films

5. Netflix: I’ve always loved movies and it’s awesome to be able to instantly watch something and have access to so many videos across the web and the world. It’s something that I use on a weekly - sometimes daily - basis. 

6. Duolingo and Quizlet: Because I have the opportunity to travel around the world to climb, I want to make sure I’m learning the languages of the places I go. I’m using Duolingo and Quizlet to learn French right now!

Olivia Shannon: Turning Wishes Into Reality.


“If you know how to code, you don’t have to say ‘I Wish.’” - Olivia Shannon

Meet Olivia Shannon, a New Yorker who loves gaming, Netflix, boxing, horror movies, writing, art and music. She learned to code and is planning to major in computer science to enhance all of her passions and ensure that she never has to say “I Wish” about any of the things she’d like to create. Through code, Olivia has learned to embrace her failures as a way to better herself. 

Read more about Olivia, her mentors and how she’s combining her passions with code in our Q&A below. 

Q&A with Olivia:

Tell us about your Girls Who Code experience. 

It may sound cheesy, but changed my life. When I started the , I expected to spend 7 weeks competing with 40 other girls in a field that I wasn’t totally sure I would excel in. I was scared to fail, scared that I wouldn’t make any meaningful friendships, and scared that computer science just wouldn’t be for me. 

And were your fears realized?

The friendships I made during those 7 weeks are ones I still happily maintain today, and each of them was built on helping to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down through petty competition. The program taught me not only to accept failure, but to embrace it and use it to better myself. It shifted my whole mindset from avoiding obstacles to facing them head on. 

Do you think learning to code in a different environment would have changed your experience?

My high school is really competitive and failure isn’t accepted as okay. Girls Who Code taught me that it’s okay to fail. If your best is failure, that’s fine, too.

How has accepting failure helped you? 

It’s clearly apparent in the way my grades have skyrocketed since attending the .  

What did you want to be growing up? 
I wanted to be an artist growing up, I even dressed up as Georgia O'Keefe, my favorite artist, for career day! 

What do you want to be now?
Now, I want to be the founder of a start-up and help make way for other women to join the ranks of this century’s computer science pioneers as well.

Do you think coding is artistic? 

Yes, that’s why I am applying to major in computer science. I can use my passion for art and writing and have a dynamic and competitive career.

What was the hardest part of learning to code?
I was terrified that I’d have to compete with everyone else in the program, and that I wouldn’t be good enough. But everyone was happy to help when I asked questions, and it was okay to mess up. I learned that when you’re programing, you’re going to make a thousand mistakes before you get it right. 

Why is it important to teach girls computer science?

As with anything, diversity breeds ingenuity. Having only one, small demographic in a field creates a smaller range of perspectives. But when people of different genders and cultures get involved, innovative solutions come up. 

Has coding made you feel more confident?

Coding has given me so many opportunities that I feel like I can do anything! In the past two months, I’ve made websites, apps, and even helped design the at his fashion show. There are so many options out there for programmers because the skill is in demand. It gives you the freedom to explore what you want to do. 

How does code tie to your other passions? 

I love gaming, watching horror movies, watching Netflix, reading and writing. I also love music and have a pretty varied taste - I’ll listen to anything from classical to pop punk. Code has created - or enhanced - all of these things. 

I also box to stay active and use Nike Running and Fitbit to track my workouts. Based on what my app is telling me my body is doing, I’ll change my workouts. 

You’re heading to college in the fall. What are you most afraid of in Freshman year? 

I am a pretty quirky person. I’m scared to meet new people but I also love putting myself out there. 

What are you most excited for?

I can’t wait to live in a dorm and have a roommate and take whatever classes I want! If I want to take a philosophy class as a computer science major, I can do that. I can expand my own learning as I see fit. 

Who are your role models?

, who was one of the first actresses and was a pioneer of wireless communications.

What advice would you give to a girl to inspire her to learn to code?

No matter what you’re interested in, knowing how to code will make it better for you and make it more fun. Code can enhance whatever your interests are. If you know how to code, you don’t have to say “I Wish.” You can create things without having to wait for anyone else. 

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Girls DO Code.

This week we released a series of videos satirizing ridiculous theories about why girls can’t code. Of course we know that girls CAN code, but each day women in tech - and many other industries - are faced with negative biases simply for being women. Thus, in addition to teaching girls to code, we have to change culture. 

These videos are meant to spark conversation and reclaim stereotypes related to gender and appearance that have been used to exclude women from traditionally male-dominated fields like technology. We’re seeing an impact. The conversations in the comments sections of our videos and on social media are proof that there’s still work to be done to close the gender gap in tech, and we’re here to keep fighting the fight. 


Here are some of our favorite comments:

“da fuck is this…”

“i love tits tho lol”

“You are wasting electricity with absolutely ridiculous tweets.”

“Feminism is about unattractive women whining for attention.“

“See? This is how you can tell western women really are privileged. They just make shit up to be upset about. Nobody has said women can’t/shouldn’t code. Fuck outta here lmao.“

“Why can’t girls code? Maybe because they are all busy getting gender studies degrees.“

“Instead of grandstanding and using your genitalia as a means of broadcasting this, start coding things. build yourselves up in the industry. Create startups and actually put that coding know-how to good use.”

“This is bullshit, no girls are excluded from tech stuff. It’s just that most girls prefer to cry about not having enough girls in tech instead of just learn science.“

“This is pathetic and ridiculous.”

“Why the fuck do women have to “womenize” every single fucking thing these days and make a fucking campaign or a hashtag out of it?” 

“Yea we know you are a woman and can do everything a man can do and u deserve equal chance and shit bla bla… Now Calm d fuck down already… 😑😑”

And this comment sums it up: 

“lmao this comment section is a clear example of why this video was needed and something so obvious like ‘girls do code’ be highlighted.“

Want to support the Girls Who Code movement? Start a , , or .

Anna Weddell: C U Spacecowgrrrl


“A game I’d like to create is one that helps girls with eating disorders because I’ve struggled with eating disorders my entire life. The game would simulate an eating disorder and might seem like it’s taking over or thinking for itself because that’s what an eating disorder is like. ” - Anna Weddell

Meet Anna “Spacecowgrrrl” Weddell, a college Freshman from the big apple. Self-described as a cool and nerdy girl who was raised in a household of technological exploration, Anna plans to study computer science in college in order to start her own gaming company. 

One of the games she’s making sheds light on eating disorders, something Anna says she’s struggled with for her entire life. She’s not alone.  reports that “approximately 1 out of every 200 girls between 15 to 24 years old suffers from anorexia nervosa, while about 1 in 50 is bulimic.” She hopes that the game, which will “simulate an eating disorder” will shed light on and generate an understanding of these stigmatized diseases. She continues, “the game might seem like it’s taking you over or thinking for itself, and that’s what an eating disorder is like.”

We are so inspired by Anna’s bravery and her desire to educate others on eating disorders because of her ability to code. 

Read more about Anna in our Q&A below.

Q&A with Anna Weddell:

Tell us about yourself.

I have always been a bit strange, when considering societal standards for normalcy. Honestly, I think I can be pretty cool, though, if cool and nerdy are adjectives that can co-exist! 

Were you always interested in computers? 

I grew up surrounded by technology because my dad was a long-time computer programmer and made sure to bring his daughter into a world of science. With books scattered about the house in colorful arrays, each featuring an animal on the cover, it was not hard for my interest to be piqued in computer science and technology from a young age. It wasn’t long before I was opening hard drives - even beloved video game consoles - and fiddling with circuit boards and metal scraps with my dad to understand more about how they worked. During college vacations, I’m still working with my dad on building portable consoles and controllers out of recycled, “dead” generations of video games.

What are the best parts of being a college freshman?

The independence and free time to do what I want to do is a big change. It’s also been great to meet new friends that share my interests; I’ve ended up making friends at my school through the network.

What are you studying in college?

I started college as undeclared. I had been interested in computer science, but I doubted whether or not I could do it.

I ended up realizing that computer science was what I wanted to do and the more time I spent not being involved in it, the more i missed it and the more I wanted to be part of it. I’m taking my first college computer science class in the fall and am excited to learn more in a classroom setting.

What are the 5 pieces of technology you can’t live without in college?

  1. My phone
  2. My computer
  3. My TV (mainly because of PS3)
  4. My Nintendo 3DS
  5. My Wii

Clearly, I like to play games.

What’s the best piece of advice for a college freshman?

Put yourself as a priority always. I know people say that a lot, but I actually started listening to that this year and it’s helped me get through my freshman year.

What do you want to do with your computer science major? 

I’ve always wanted to make video games. I hope to be able to become involved in a gaming company one day - or maybe even start my own!

What types of video games do you want to make?

I have a bunch of notes of random video game ideas. One of the games I want to make helps girls with eating disorders because I’ve struggled with eating disorders my entire life. The game would simulate an eating disorder and might seem like it’s taking you over or thinking for itself because that’s what an eating disorder is like. 


Interested in learning how to code?

Jennifer Gaspar-Santos: Woman, Mother, Filipina & Teacher Who Codes


“My mother says, “Either you laugh or you cry.” I like this. It helps me overcome failure. You can either accept failure and laugh about it, or you can cry and let it overtake you.” - Jennifer Gaspar-Santos

Meet Jennifer Gaspar-Santos, the Director of Educational Technology and Innovation at St.Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA. She’s also a mother, a Filipina and a lover of curiosity. Jennifer could not say no when one of her students approached her to help start a at school. She says, “It’s that curiosity that pushes folks past the hard part of coding.”

While Jennifer never self-identified as a stereotypical “geeky” coder, she remembers always loving computers. In fact, she claims to have always loved computers more than ice cream. That’s really saying something!


Read more about Jennifer’s passion for code, her role models and how coding has helped her overcome her fear of failure in our Q&A below.

Q&A with Jennifer Gaspar-Santos:

Why did you join the Girls Who Code movement?

The movement speaks to me both as a female director in ed tech and as a female director who is also a person of color. It’s not lost on me how much my role as a Director helps model for girls that anything is possible. We can leverage our identity to push the norms. I was also touched by an enthusiastic student who asked me if I would help start a on our campus. She attended the and wanted that same experience to continue at the school. I literally didn’t even have my boxes unpacked from summer break and she asked me to help get this club going. I can’t say no to a student when they genuinely are curious about something.

Were you always interested in computers?

Yes, I remember when my parents bought me my first computer from sears and it broke. I cried and my mom was so sweet that she said she would buy me an ice cream to make me feel better. I like computers more than ice cream.

What’s the hardest part of learning to code?

Being graded on coding and ridiculed by others who know how to code is the hardest part. I’ll be teaching an intro to design thinking and app development course next year and I’m committed to de-stigmatizing the idea that you have to be really smart to code. The biggest roadblock to innovation is fear and this same fear applies to coding. I think grades perpetuate the idea that you have to get an A in order to be a good coder. 

It’s a horrible thought that coders were born with a coding gene. I prefer having the disposition to be curious. It’s that curiosity that pushes folks past the hard part of coding.

Is coding creative?

It’s an art, not a science. It’s using text and logic and variables to create something that didn’t exist previously. 

How has coding made you feel more confident?

Coding is like a super power. I know I can roll up my sleeves and learn to code - with or without formal training. The ability to create something that someone once told you only smart people can do is really satisfying.  

Has coding made you more comfortable with failure? Tell us about a time you failed and what you learned.

I don’t think this form is long enough. #FailEarlyFailOften 

One instance I can think of was hosting my first hour of code. I had this grand idea of collaborating with our school library, our science department, multimedia lab and our social justice club as this inter-club block filled with hour of code activities. I had kids who didn’t know where they were going, rooms were booked, kids eating cookies instead of coding, I had python going on my screen but some other kids on social media. One girl even got lost in the shuffle. It was disorganized. 

I even had one girl say, “This isn’t for me,” which broke my heart. I was definitely biting off more than I could chew. 

I overcame it by naming it. I had to accept the failure. I had to embrace it and call everything I did wrong. I couldn’t point fingers. I just accepted it. Once you accept the failure, you can put it in its place - behind you - and move on. 

Have you ever been stereotyped because you code?

I have had people stereotype me because I code. They think that I must also be good in school and be a complete geek. I actually didn’t do very well in school. I thrived in learning situations that were experiential and, unfortunately, most of my schooling was so traditional that I didn’t do well in those settings. I’m also not a complete geek, I’m a Filipino mother of two that happens to like to code. I like when coding brings together people of all backgrounds. It’s not just for “geeks.” I think folks overcome stereotypes by debunking the idea that only some folks can code and by keeping curious, by embracing your interests and by letting your inner voice guide your curiosity. Forget all the other outside voices–it’s just noise!

Who is your role model?

My mother and Lena Dunham are my role models. Both are feminists, both are amazing at their crafts, and both have made me feel so confident after listening to them talk. I don’t know Lena Dunham personally, but I think if she did meet me, we’d be friends.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mother says, “Either you laugh or you cry.” I like this. It helps me overcome failure. You can either accept failure and laugh about it, or you can cry and let it overtake you. I think the second you laugh at something, you strip it of its power. This piece of advice has also gotten me through roadblocks in my life as both a mother and a female director in technology. I like how it presents choices. It allows the person to decide the road they want to take. It makes me feel like I’m in control of where I want to go.

What would you say to the girl who says coding isn’t for her?

I would sit her in front of my laptop. Give her some hot cocoa and hit play on and ask her if she still felt the same way. If she’s coming from a place of fear, I would tell her that she’s awesome and that there are lots of girls out there that feel the same way. I would start with an unplugged coding activity first to debunk the myth in her head that coding is too hard. If she’s coming from a place of disinterest, I would tell her all the amazing things people create with code. 

How can a girl who’s interested in computer science get started?

Get started with unplugged activities. Use legos, paper and non technical ways of learning code. The best way to get started is commit to 10 min every other day, then build to 10 min every day then build to 30 min per week. Approach it like a building a muscle. Every exercise gets you stronger and stronger. 

What piece of technology can you not live without?

I can’t live without paper. Yes, that’s my favorite piece of technology. 

Which of your recently used emojis describes you perfectly?

I like the smirking face emoji. I’m half smile, half silly. Folks take themselves too seriously with coding. It’s fun if you let it be fun.

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Brittney Hill: Filmmaker Who Dreams in Code


“The idea that I, a girl from Georgia can create something with the potential to help others has given me a huge confidence boost.” ~Brittney Hill

Meet Brittney Hill, a girl from Georgia who loves filmmaking, photography and music. She’s learning to code as a way to enhance her artistic endeavors and to make her life - and everyone else’s - a little easier. This fall, Brittney is heading to college and has a bunch of life hack ideas to make her freshman year easier with code. 

Learn more about Brittney and the things she’s creating with code each week on My Code, premiering April 28 on  

Q&A with Brittney Hill:

What does the Girls Who Code movement mean to you?

When I was accepted into the , I never anticipated that the experience would have such a valuable impact on me. I don’t know whether it was being exposed to something I had never even heard of or the idea that I could make computers out of nothing and program them to do whatever I want that got me so hooked on coding. Fortunately, somewhere along the way, I got there. Essentially, Girls Who Code means a bigger, better, brighter, future to me.

What was your dream job growing up?
As a child, I loved animals, and I wanted to help them by being a veterinarian. 

What is your dream job now?

As I get older, my love of biology has inspired me to continue to pursue the health profession and explore the field of genetics. However, I’m not sure being a veterinarian is the right choice for me. Now that I can code, I understand my potential and want to exercise it fully. I’m more aware of the many different jobs women can hold in computer science. I have dreamed of an occupation that would inspire creativity, be rigorous and mentally challenging, yet still be enjoyable. A profession that includes code is just that! 

Why did you apply to the Summer Immersion Program?

I stumbled upon the and fell in love with the program’s mission. When I saw that I could spend a summer at a company like Facebook, Twitter, or Pixar, I immediately sent in my application. I couldn’t pass up a great opportunity to learn something new in a cool place!

What’s the hardest part of learning to code?

It’s learning how to deal with failure. When I started the program, I was a coding novice unlike some of the other girls in the program. There were times I would see another girl effortlessly generating code that I had been stuck on, and I would feel discouraged. However, this made me more determined to complete the task I was given, which further fueled my passion for coding.  With the help of my teachers and cohorts, I learned how to fix my mistakes and quickly began to enjoy debugging my code.  

What’s it like being a girl who codes?

Being a girl who codes is definitely an impressive quality. Whenever I tell someone that I was on the Facebook campus learning to code, most people are excited for me. Some even note how great it is to have more women in tech, but they almost always comment that it might be a challenging endeavor being a girl in this field. I noticed the struggles of being a women who codes the most when I listened to female speakers talk about their similar experiences in tech. A common theme was that men assumed women knew less than they did. I’m excited to be a part of redefining this field.  

Why should girls learn to code?

It is extremely important to get all perspectives in a field that has so much impact on our lives. The products created for diverse groups need diverse creators to ensure that the most needs are met. For exceptional innovation, it is important to examine solutions from all sides. Women entering this profession are imperative to creating products and finding solutions to help make the world better for everyone. 

How has coding made you more confident?

The idea that I, a girl from Georgia, can create something with the potential to help others has given me a huge confidence boost. Computers and technology have become an integral part of our lives, and if I see a better way of accomplishing something using technology, it’s great to know I have the power to change it.


How does coding tie to your passions?

I’ve been in video productions at my high school for the past four years and it’s something I genuinely love to do. I have also directed the daily morning news show at my high school for the past two years. I love directing because I get to be in charge of the creative vision of the show and I love the fast paced environment of the newsroom. We also have a bi-weekly entertainment show for which I edit and create videos. I’ve always been very interested in videography and photography and both fields rely heavily on technology. Knowing how to code makes me a better videographer and photographer. 

Follow Brittney:

  • Snapchat: brittlegitx

Interested in learning to code like Brittney?

Audrey Thompson: Actress/Gamer/Developer/YouTuber


“Coding is not a cult - you don’t sign your life away to becoming a computer science major or a software engineer just because you’ve made yourself more technologically affluent. Coding can go with any of your interests!” - Audrey Thompson

Meet Audrey Thompson, a high school senior from Reno, Nevada. Audrey acts, designs websites, is a gamer and loves YouTube - either watching it or starring in the new series “” She’s passionate about ensuring everyone - regardless of their interests - learns to code and understands how to tie code to their passions. Audrey’s favorite piece of advice is to “do what makes you happy,” which she makes clear with her enthusiastic attitude and cheek to cheek smile! 

Get to know more about Audrey in our Q&A and on “My Code,” airing Thursdays on !

Q&A with Audrey Thompson:

What recently used emojo describes your personality best?

The laughing-so-hard-you’re-crying emoji, the one that kind of looks like this: XD, because I love to laugh and that’s my reaction to a lot of things.


What made you join the Girls Who Code movement?

I liked making things in Scratch when I was younger, and I already loved to code. When I discovered and all the opportunities it had to offer me, I was like, “Sign me up!” Plus, I think the message of getting more girls into tech is crazy important, and I really want to see more girls in the industry.

Were you always interested in computers?

Yes, mostly because I’ve played video games my entire life on computers.

What were some of your other interests growing up?

Reading, dinosaurs and dragons, karate, theater, and playing instruments.

Is coding creative?

Coding is probably THE MOST CREATIVE thing that people have access to in today’s world. Technology is insanely fluid and holds nearly endless potential. When you can code, you can create practically anything you can conjure up in your imagination! I’ve had an idea for a video game before, drew up a plan, and created a first basic build in just a few hours because of code.

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

Getting my head around a lot of kinds of algorithms has always been really difficult for me. Questions about finding a certain number in a list and recursion take me a long time to figure out.

Has coding made you more confident?

It’s made me way more confident with all kinds of technology, especially software. Now, when I get a new program, I usually don’t even feel the need to look up a tutorial to use it because I’m confident in my ability. Also, I’m way more optimistic about the kinds of projects I can make, and I’m confident enough to try and push the limits of my coding abilities.

Did you ever encounter people who stereotyped you because you code? How did you overcome that?

Yes, I’ve gotten people who thought that I would only be good at front-end coding or making projects that are pretty to look at because I’m a girl. I overcame this by making projects that were gorgeous front-end-wise and way more technically complex than theirs back-end-wise, too.

Tell us about a time you overcame failure.

I was rejected from my top choice college after applying early decision, flying out to interview at the college, and basically pouring my heart and soul into the application. I was devastated that they rejected me, but with the help of my friends and parents, I rallied, wrote better essays, and got into my second, third, and fourth top choices, with some scholarship offers to boot! Plus, after some closer looks, my second choice is looking a lot better than the college I originally thought was my first choice.

Who is your role model?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from your role model?

Do what makes you happy, no matter what that might be, and to not worry so much about what others might think or what kind of money you make. Being happy is the most important thing to focus on in life. 

What do you say to the girl who says coding is not for her?

I’d tell her that if she plans on even looking at a computer screen at any point in her life, she should at least consider taking a basic course or two in coding or in coding concepts. Coding is not a cult - you don’t sign your life away to becoming a computer science major or a software engineer just because you’ve made yourself more technologically affluent. Coding can go with any of your interests!

Follow Audrey:

  • Snapchat: totallyaud

Interested in learning how to code like Audrey?

Shannon Yan: Boy Scout. Yeah, You Heard Me!


“A lot of things I participate in have major stereotypes: cheerleader, boy scout and coder. It’s great that I’ve found outlets for everything I’m passionate about, regardless of whether or not they’re what people expect of me.” ~Shannon Yan

Meet Shannon Yan, a 16 year-old from Oakland, California who is a cheerleader, a boy scout - yes, boy scout - AND a girl who codes! 

Shannon is part of the cast of the new YouTube series #MyCode with other Girls Who Code alumni, Audrey, Brittney & Margot. Starting April 28 on , they’ll be giving you tips and tricks on how pursue your passions and build the world of your dreams through code. Read more about Shannon in our Q&A!

Q&A with Shannon Yan:

Why did you decide to join the Girls Who Code movement? 

My friend was part of Girls Who Code and told me about it. She was talking about: THE FOOD, THE OPPORTUNITIES, THE NETWORKING, THE FRIENDS!


I did more research about , and not only was I interested in what I’d learn in the program but I also knew all of the companies that sponsored the program! So, I had to apply. 

What was the experience like?

It was the best summer of my life! It was life-changing because it made me realize how capable I am. 

Did you always like computer science? 

I had taken a computer science class before . However, the overall experience in the program made me realize that I liked the tech culture and want to be part of it.

What do you want to do with code?

It’s the fastest way to make a change in the world. I want to influence the world in a positive way, and coding is the answer. 

How do you want to change the world?

I am passionate about the environment and want to find ways to save water and electricity.

I am also fascinated by how social media has changed the way we communicate with people. I want to create something that changes the fabric of mankind. 

Have you ever been stereotyped because you code?

A lot of things I participate in have major stereotypes: cheerleader, boy scout and coder. 

As a cheerleader, people don’t think I’m intelligent or excel in math and science. Cheerleading is great because it shows off my personality, though! Alternatively, coding shows off my intelligence. When I say I’m a boy scout, people give me a weird look. It’s a cool way to make people rethink stereotypes and their assumptions about you. 

It’s great that I’ve found outlets for everything I’m passionate about, regardless of whether or not they’re what people expect of me. 


Why did you decide to be a boy scout? 

I joined because of their  program. It’s co-ed, youth led and has groups with specific focuses. Mine is community service. I help run a venturing crew that feeds the homeless, helps restore houses and maintains public gardens in Oakland. It’s amazing to take advantage of all of the resources that being a boy scout offers. 

What advice would you give to a girl who thinks coding is not for her?

Persistence. Once you get over the hurdle of the first fail, you can make it. The saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it” is real!


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Interested in learning to code like Shannon?

Sejal Mehra: #Concussion Can’t Slow Me Down


“When I say that I code, most of my guy friends question me and wonder how a girl could speak the same language as them. Code isn’t exclusively a boy language, it’s a computer language.” - Sejal Mehra

Meet Sejal Mehra, a girl who’s not letting her gender stop her from enacting major change for herself and others. After a concussion, Sejal learned to code as a way to build up her confidence. When she’s not coding, Sejal is a foodie and loves to share her passion for food with those around her. Maybe she’ll create the next great #foodie app!

Q&A with Sejal Mehra:

What does being part of the Girls Who Code movement mean to you?

was the start of a new beginning for me. I was hit by a volleyball in my gym class, which resulted in a concussion. That concussion resulted in me missing a month and a half of school and losing my self-confidence. I started getting really depressed from the pain medication I was on. My mom ended up finding Girls Who Code and suggested I apply as a way to motivate me for my recovery. Learning to code brought happiness and confidence back into my life. 

What was your Summer Immersion Program experience like?

When I found out I would be in a classroom with 20 other girls, I got pretty intimidated. However, our mutual interest in technology brought us all together. There’s a group chat of all of our classmates and we’re having a reunion soon!

What was your dream job growing up?

I wanted to be the President of the United States of America. 

What about being President was exciting to you?

I wanted to be a leader and be able to enact major change. 

Do you still want to be President? 

Now, I would like to run a technology company. I like both hardware and software so we’ll see which direction I end up going in. 

You mentioned you want to enact major change. How will you do that through technology? 

I’d like to work on apps that help people with things they deal with every day - like transportation, food or health. 

Did you always like computers?

No, I didn’t. When I was little, I thought computers were something for my brother to play with. I was always good with computers, though. In fact, my family would always ask me to help them with their technology.

Was it hard to learn to code? 

The hardest part of learning to code is paying attention to small details. For example, it’s really easy to forget to add a semi-colon at the end of a line of code. Without that semi-colon, though, your program won’t run properly. 

Do people stereotype you because you’re a girl who codes?

When I say that I code, most of my guy friends question me and wonder how a girl could speak the same language as them. Code isn’t exclusively a “boy” language, it’s a computer language. 

How has coding helped you regain your confidence? 

As I mentioned, I never thought that STEM was accessible for me; it was more accessible for my brother. On top of that, after my concussion I felt very isolated and limited. By learning how to code, my confidence grew with every line of code I created!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Never give up and put your best foot forward. Give everything 110%!

What advice would you give to another girl to inspire her to code? 

Coding can lead you to many different fields. You can make a website, an app or build whatever you want with code. 

Does code tie to your other passions?

I LOVE food! My mom is a great chef and I like to eat everything she makes. Food is a work of art and can be presented in many different ways. It also brings people together. Code allows you to share the food you’re creating or eating with the rest of the world. Like food, code also connects people and is a work of art.

Follow Sejal:

  • Snapchat: SejalMehra

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Gayeon Park: Surprise Coder!


“It’s not important to just teach girls computer science; it is a very practical and useful skill for everyone to learn!” ~Gayeon Park

Meet Gayeon Park, an 18 year-old girl who codes from New Jersey. Similar to many other , Gayeon’s love of computer science came by complete surprise and changed the course of her academic and professional aspirations. 

Q&A with Gayeon Park:

What does being part of the Girls Who Code movement mean to you?

I can summarize being part of Girls Who Code in one word: surprise. 

Why “surprise?”

From getting accepted to the funded by AOL Charitable Foundation to becoming a Girls Who Code alumni ambassador, there have many big and small surprises. Girls Who Code introduced me to various technological fields and gave me a chance to talk to professionals from each. I’ve also attended awards and spoken on panels. I’m also pursuing a college major in computer science, something I never would have imagined doing!

What was your dream job growing up?

I wanted to be president. 

Do you still want to be president?

No. Now, I aspire to be a computer scientist or chemical engineer.

Why did you apply to the Summer Immersion Program?

I originally had no intention to apply, but I was invited to and decided to try. Although I was first reluctant, my experience in the club made me want to expand my knowledge of computer science. So, I applied to the  


Gayeon with her Girls Who Code final project team

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

It’s most difficult when there is a logic error in my code. I have to break everything into smaller groups and figure out where I went wrong.

Do people stereotype you because you’re a girl who codes?

The only tough situations or stereotypes I run into are when a guy belittles me for coding as though I’m not as good as he is.

Why should girls learn computer science?

It’s not important to just teach girls computer science; it is a very practical and useful skill for everyone to learn!

Has coding made you feel more confident?

On scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most, I would say I’m an 8 in my confidence. I used to be very timid and scared to ask questions. After my experience learning to code with 20 other girls, I can now speak with a variety of people with ease and am confident in myself. With a coding background, I can undertake the problems of the world and feel prepared for any surprises that life might throw at me. 

Will you continue to code?

Yes, I continue to code and have participated in AOL’s Step Up panel, the Code for Good hackathon at JP Morgan, and the Pennapps global hackathon!


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“My Code” is a show with your new BFFs Audrey, Brittney, Margot & Shannon. They’ll be giving you tips and tricks on how pursue your passions and build the world of your dreams through code. 

Audrey Thompson


Brittney Hill


Margot Richard


Shannon Yan


What’s your code? Let us know in the comments!

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Leslie Landis: Popcorn & Pop Culture Enthusiast


“My parents always say I can’t go without my phone and I always answer back with yes I can. One day I thought to myself, can I?” ~Leslie Landis

Meet Leslie Landis, a 16 year-old from New York City who has a popcorn addiction, counts YouTube and Project Runway as her guilty pleasures and  as an experiment to see how much her life depended on technology. After her cell phone fast, Leslie wants to use her coding ability to educate the world about global issues. 

Read more about Leslie in our Q&A.

Q&A with Leslie Landis:

What does the Girls Who Code movement mean to you?

Before Girls Who Code, I never saw myself as a coder or an engineer. gave me not just valuable coding skills but a valuable opportunity: to see myself in a whole new way. Now, I see myself as someone who can take on a big industry regardless of the gender gap. I am a more able, confident, and ambitious girl with big dreams and I want to share that with everyone around the world. 

What was your dream job growing up? What’s your dream job now? 

Growing up, I wanted to be on Project Runway and start my own fashion empire. I loved Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn so much and i still watch that show!

Now, I want to be the CEO of my own social media empire. 

Why do you want to be a CEO?

I love being a leader and helping people get to their end goal. In group projects, I like guiding people through every step. 

Why did you apply to the Summer Immersion Program?

I thought that coding would be a very helpful life skill, especially since I want to start my own company. 

Did you always like computers?

Growing up, computers were just for doing my homework. I wasn’t really that interested in computers until I realized that there was a whole industry around it.

Do people ever stereotype you for being a girl who codes?

When I tell my friends that I like to code, I’m put in a “STEM” bubble. I’m so much more than that, though. I’m a writer, a reader and I love art. I’m not just the girl who codes.

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

It’s making sure not to second guess my talent. I’ve had to learn to trust myself.

Why do you think it’s important to teach girls computer science?

I think that computer science has been unfairly labeled as a boy’s job just because it falls under a STEM category and not a Humanities category. It’s the 21st century, but girls and are still growing up in a world where they’re told that they cant go into STEM or they’re not naturally good at math and science. Teaching girls computer science is the first step to breaking these labels of what boys are good at and what girls are good at. 

How has coding made you feel more confident?

In school, when I’m intimidated about a new project or subject, I think back to when I first learned to code and how intimidated I felt. Everyone starts off as a beginner. 

Do you think coding is creative?

People assume that STEM is very strict and computational but it’s actually really creative. You have to think outside the box and be creative in the way that you problem solve.

What problems do you want to solve with code?

I like the impact that social media has on people because news spreads faster and people are more easily informed about global topics and issues. 

With that being said, will you ever give up your phone again?

IT WAS SOOO HARD but I learned a lot about how reliant I am on my phone and technology in general. I’m not sure if I’d choose to do it again. 

Follow Leslie:

  • Snapchat: xoxoluvleslie

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Kaitlin Gu: #FlawlessHacker


“It is rare to meet people that will make a lasting impact on your life and I had the luck of meeting 20 of them. These girls are my friends, my family, and my number 1 supporters and I will never forget them.” - Kaitlin Gu on

Meet Kaitlin Gu, a senior in college whose ultimate goal is to make an impact and she is. Learn more about how Kaitlin is pairing her love of music with technology and helping inspire our in the Q&A below.

Q&A with Kaitlin Gu:

What did you want to be growing up? What do you aspire to be now?

Growing up, I wanted to be an accountant. I didn’t really know what it meant - and if I’m being honest, I still don’t really know - but my mom told me that it was an important job and I wanted to be important. At 7 years old, there were no courses for how to be an accountant so it was difficult to maintain that aspiration. However, the desire to make a significant impact still hasn’t gone away. 

Now, as I’m about to graduate college, I get the question, “So, what is it that you want to do?” almost every day. The truth is, I don’t really know. There are a lot of roles that are appealing to me: teacher, software engineer, designer, etc. What I aspire to be in all of these roles is the same as it was when I was 7: important.

What is your definition of important?

To have a meaningful impact. For instance, Girls Who Code was very meaningful - or important - to me. Some people might think important ties to fame but that’s not it for me, it’s about affecting peoples’ lives. 

Were you always interested in computers?

Yes and no. My brother always played on the computer so it was really hard to get access to it. I loved the access I had when I finally got ahold of it. I wish I had gotten more time with it. 

What made you apply to be a TA at Girls Who Code?

I wanted to be a because I wanted to make an impact on young girls’ lives. I didn’t have the opportunity to do computer science in high school, and I wanted to help give that opportunity to others. 

What was unexpected was the impact that my students made on my life. They gave me courage, confidence, and a family that I could go to if ever need be. If you (the reader of this blog) are asking me if you should join the Girls Who Code movement by or applying for the , I will always answer yes! You not only get to learn how to code but you build a network of people who are your #1 champions.

Is coding creative?

Of course! I create things all the time with code. I get to do a lot of projects that I’m really passionate about. Recently, my friend and I did a printing project for our school where you could see which printers are broken. There were pictures of computers that worked and computers that were broken. So, you could see where you could print based on these images.

Another thing that I made was Meowsic, which was a hack for a hackathon that I helped run at Spotify. You can bring together any song and then add meows to the downbeat of the song. 


That sounds like the most fun app ever! Was it hard to create the app? Do you think coding us hard?

The hardest part about coding is the initial confidence gap. I remember having this sense that computer science was incomprehensible unless you were a natural born talent. And you feel even more like an outsider when you don’t see a lot of people that look like you. The truth is, most people feel this way. So much in fact that there’s a name for it: “impostor syndrome.” Unfortunately, more women are likely to feel this way. This feeling doesn’t ever go away, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. It means that you feel like you can always learn more and that is always true. What’s important is to not let those feelings get in the way of your own desire to learn.

Why do you think it’s important to teach girls Computer Science?

It’s interesting, you can immerse yourself in supportive environments that empower you and make you feel like you can do anything that you want! Every so often, though, you will meet someone outside of that environment that makes you question everything you’ve ever accomplished because of your identity. Those moments happen from time to time and they stick out more than I’d like. 

I remember feeling weird being the only female developer at my job and not being assigned projects. I would wonder if it was because of my gender. I was also paid less than my male peers. At my school’s club fest, people scoffed at the existence of a women in the computing club. Those moments are the hardest because they fabricate doubt and doubt is incredibly dangerous. What has always saved me is a power pose. Just standing like I’m superwoman for about one or two minutes reminds me that I AM superwoman. I tell myself everything that I’ve accomplished, everything I’ve worked for and stand like I have all the power in the world and it shuts down all the noise.

Would you say that coding has made you feel more confident?

Working through a problem, struggling through it and then solving it gives me an immense amount of confidence. When I wrote my first “Hello World” program in Java, I did a little dance after. Fast forward two years and I’m debugging a lab for operating systems and doing the same dance when a program runs. The ability to look at my code, understand how it works, and being able to point to that program and say “I did that” makes for a great feeling. What ultimately makes me the most confident is being able to give that feeling to another person by teaching them how to code. Giving someone the ability to celebrate their code and claim ownership of it is so rewarding and I hope that I can always offer that to others.


Tell us about a time you overcame failure.

The worst thing about failure is that sometimes it can really consume you. I remember quitting a job prematurely, and I felt like a complete failure. Then, I started feeling like a failure for not being able to get over that failure quickly enough. In hindsight, I realize that in quitting that job, I was standing up for my values. Despite promises of a paycheck, I worked there for a long time without any compensation, the work was not challenging enough for me and took up time that I could have been dedicating to honing my skills or bettering myself in some way. Nevertheless, at the time I was panicking. I would try to reason with myself, telling myself that successful people will fail at one time or another, that I would be ok. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I were to put this job on my resume, the previous employer would make sure that I would never get hired again. I viewed these feelings as an even deeper sign of failure, and I tried to suppress them immediately. 

I think is is important to let yourself feel like a failure. No one can ride on the highs of their successes forever. You need to be taken down sometimes so that you can learn from your mistakes and rise up even higher.

How does computer science tie to your other passions?

I help organize a hackathon called the . I strongly encourage everyone who is reading this to attend! I don’t really know much about music - I’ve been told I’m tone deaf by a variety of people- but I love it. I thought I would never be able to pursue my music passion but Monthly Music Hackathon provided me with a space to do it.

What advice would you give to another girl to inspire her to code?

The biggest hindrance I find in computer science is people saying, “Oh, you don’t look like the type of person who would code.” There isn’t a typical type. Look for mentors who tackle that standard. A lot of people think I can code because I’m Asian. It’s a back-handed and racist compliment. 

Can we come to one of your hackathons?

NYU WinC is the largest community of technical women at NYU, with over 200 members and we’re throwing a hackathon called  on April 16. We’re bringing together over 100 women engineers from the greater New York area and from colleges such as NYU, Columbia, Barnard, Pace, and Cooper Union for a day of coding, mentorship and awesome projects!


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Udacity + Girls Who Code Clubs Hackathon: Social Impact Winners!


Sowmya, Chris, Ishika & Gauthami, Girls Who Code Club Members and winners of Udacity’s Hackathon on March 17, 2016!

 & Girls Who Code Clubs’ Hackathon to get girls interested in STEM resulted in many creative ideas from a TV show called “Keeping Up With The Kodeashians” to a YouTube series to a game that codes to your favorite pop song. We’re definitely taking notes!

However, it was team Post-It Accordion that took home the social impact prize for their idea, “STEP UP.” Learn more about “STEP UP” and team Post-It Accordion in our Q&A below.

Q&A with Sowmya, Chris, Ishika & Gauthami (Team Post-It Accordion):

What is “Step Up?”

Chris: It creates coding centers with computers and internet access in rural communities in India that teach computer literacy as well as provide tutoring and academic help.

What inspired this idea?

Ishiki: It was actually personal for some of us. My dad lived in a rural part of India and he was the only person in his community to get out of that and into a tech career. He inspired his peers and women in his community to follow suit. That domino effect is what we wanted to reflect in our project. 

Why the name “Step Up?”

Sowmya: We want girls in India to step up by learning to code so they can rise up against their circumstances.

Why did you learn to code?

Gauthami: My dad is a programmer and I never really understood what he did. I decided to learn to code because I was curious.

Chris: I joined my robotics team in freshman year of high school. I was definitely more of a mechanical person but wanted to understand how to program the robot. Now, I understand all aspects of robotics and am more easily able to communicate with my team.

Sowmya: I was curious about what I’d be able to create with code. 

Ishika: I’ve always been first and foremost an artist. I never thought I’d want to do something with technology but I realized that tech is a growing field and ties to ever industry. I’d like to use coding and technology and go into video game design or something creative. I can translate coding into art.

Are you interested in learning how to code?

Vanessa Hsu: Growing Out of Discomfort.


“Coders don’t have to do computer science all day. I don’t just sit in a dark room and code in my free time; I like to dance, paint and hang out with friends!” ~Vanessa Hsu

Meet Vanessa Hsu, a 16 year-old from Seattle, WA. She dropped out of high school as a sophomore and went straight to college as part of UW Academy, which is an early university admission opportunity for academically advanced 10th grade students in Washington State. Learn how Vanessa is balancing college, coding, dance & her social life in the Q&A below.

Q&A with Vanessa Hsu:

What’s it like being 16 and in college?

It’s difficult because I haven’t taken a lot of classes the other freshman have taken. Although the computer science class I was taking was meant to be an introductory course, it was quite challenging and I often found it difficult to finish assignments quickly and fully understand the concepts. However, I sought help from my TA and classmates. After asking for help, I began to find the assignments and class more enjoyable. I am now able to work through problems on my own and throughly enjoy the process.

There’s also a lot more work. I used to do my homework last minute. Now, I’m learning to prioritize my work and get it done before the due date. 

What are you studying?

I’m an intended Computer Science Major. I enjoy design and web design.

Do you feel like people stereotype you because of your major?

I feel a little more accepted studying CS in college. In my CS classes, though, I’m the only girl.

Why did you join the Girls Who Code movement?

Before I attended the , I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue in college. I had become familiar with computer science through my high school robotics team but had never worked with computers and had no idea what coding really was. 

What was your experience like with Girls Who Code?

Throughout the seven weeks in the program, I connected with the teachers, the girls, and many women in the tech industry, who showed me what coding could do and what working in a tech company really looks like. I learned so much about computer science and also about teamwork and communication. Girls Who Code helped me make my decision to pursue computer science, and showed me that I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to. 

What was your final project?

I created an app to help find local events. I’m really interested in travel and wanted people to be able to find events that locals would go to. 

What’s the coolest local event you’d like to go to?

A night market in Taiwan sounds pretty cool.

Do you think coding is creative?

It’s definitely creative. Assignments at school always have an element of creativity. We made graphics using code and got to design little pictures. I also made a power puff girl and a guitar that played on the computer. So far, my power puff girl image was the coolest thing I created.

Aside from coding, what are your other passions?

I also love dance, fashion, video editing, and photography. Computer scientists do not have to look or behave a certain way.

What advice would you give to a girl to encourage her to code

Even though it seems like tech is all men, there are a lot of women. It was difficult for me to step into computer science because I always lean into arts and humanities. Coding is cool because it combines art, math and science!

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