Hi there! It’s Kristi, a #TeacherWhoCodes at Pixar. I’m back for the last time this summer sharing my behind-the-scenes experiences of the Summer Immersion Program.
This was my second year , and it was the best way to spend my summer. Teaching is hard work, but I get to mold minds, encourage learning, be a role model, and experience firsthand the future innovators in technology. There’s no job that can offer more than that.
One of my favorite things about Girls Who Code is that I get to see how much students grow over such a short period of time: there were shy students who broke out of their shell; there were self-doubting students that gained confidence; students who liked to work by themselves learned how to effectively work with others.
I am also so proud of what my students accomplished in just 7 weeks. What’s more, serve to benefit society, whether it’s for social justice or raising awareness about an issue. These girls care about changing the world, and I am more proud of them for that than I am for what programming skills they learned this summer.
I am already looking forward to our reunions and learning what these girls accomplish in the future. Even if computer science doesn’t turn out to be the field they pursue, I know they all have the potential to do something great.
Hi! I’m Kristi, a teacher at Pixar and I’ve been sharing my experiences behind the scenes for the past 8 weeks. I’m sad to say that this is the final week of the Summer Immersion Program. It’s truly been the experience of a lifetime!
This was the last full day for the girls to work on their projects. We spent the entire day trying to perfect new additions to the final projects. The day went by incredibly fast because everybody was trying to get as much done as possible in the little amount of time they had.
The girls spent the morning testing and debugging their code and making sure everything worked as they expected. I made sure each group had their project on GitHub, and that the merging process went smoothly. They spent some time developing their two minute pitches that they would deliver at graduation. Then, they got a chance to practice in one of Pixar’s theaters!
Wednesday - GRADUATION DAY!
Wednesday was graduation day, the day the students were all waiting for! It was super exciting but also bittersweet. Everything went smoothly and it was so inspiring to see my students show off their final projects to their family and friends. I was so proud of them and their accomplishments.
We started wrapping up the summer. The girls spent the morning filling out surveys about their experience and I had them write a letter to their future self. I also talked about and how they can get involved with one. After lunch, the girls uploaded their final projects to the for everyone to check out!.
The the last day of the summer. Went spent most of the day in denial of that fact and instead have some fun. We spend the first hour playing Kahoot! with random topics. Then, Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar came to chat with us and answer our questions. We ended the day with the Good Thoughts Web activity, where everyone said something positive about another person. There were many teary goodbyes and thank you’s, and before I knew it, everyone was gone.
I had a great summer and hope you enjoyed spending it with me!
It’s already week 5 of the Summer Immersion Program! I can’t believe it!
If you’re just tuning in, I’m Kristi, a teacher for Girls Who Code at Pixar, and I’m back for week 5 of the . Here’s the inside scoop on what went on behind the scenes!
The students are learning Robotics - that’s right, Robots - and Arduino programming this week! This morning I let the students work in groups to build circuits that would light up LED lights. Then, Alonso Martinez, a technical director at Pixar, came by and talked about his work on Coco (computability and complexity) and brought his robot, Mira, to show the class.The students loved it!
I taught the girls how to create sounds on their robot. The highlight of the day, though, was the extra behind-the-scenes tour we got of Pixar. We got to see some of the animators’ offices, which were decorated elaborately in different themes. One person had even knocked out his front office wall and created a new wall made out of Styrofoam stones to give it an Indiana Jones feel. You could tell that animators have a lot of fun. We also got to see the “Rendering Farm,” which is the room with computers used to render scenes - generate an image from a 2D or 3D models. AND we also got to go to the roof!
We started class with a conversation about gratitude. With all of the new and exciting things the students are learning and experiencing, it can be easy to overlook the hard work and generosity put into it by others. The girls then wrote thank-you notes to different people they’ve met throughout the summer to express their gratitude. After lunch, Sean “Stoked” Stephenson came by to do a Web Development Workshop. He showed the students how to create a GitHub account and host their own website on GitHub pages.
Thursday was fun for two reasons: the girls got to make their robots move, and Jeff Stern, last year’s Pixar teacher, came to visit. In the morning, I talked about how to program the servos on the robots to make the wheels move. They spent some time writing functions for moving the robots forward, backward, left, and right. Then, Jeff gave his “Remember the Human” talk on UI design. After lunch, the students worked in groups to create a robot dance to the song of their choice. At the end of class, we had a dance party so everyone could show off what moves they programmed their robots to do.
It was our TA, Amanda’s, birthday! That meant it was her turn to be pranked! After the classic “empty box” gag, we surprised her with cupcakes.
Since final projects start next week, we finished the day brainstorming ideas and creating groups for our projects. I can’t wait to see what they create!
Are you interested in being a Girls Who Code teacher?
“Make it fun. Create something you enjoy with code!’ - Cassie Mahakian
Meet Cassie Mahakian, a thirteen year old coder, tennis player, musician, and self-described “girly girl.” Cassie recently won the and is looking forward to studying engineering at Erie High School in the fall. Want some words of wisdom from this awesome young #GirlBoss? Read the interview below!
Q&A with Cassie Mahakian
What was your dream job growing up?
I was very interested in music and wanted to do something around that.
Do you still want to work in music?
Yes! I’d like to combine engineering with music. Currently, I play the piano, guitar, and clarinet.
When did you start coding?
Why did you join Girls Who Code?
I had been doing Scratch for a while, but it was hard to find fun places to learn to code. interested me because it’s a whole class of girls supporting each other and cultivating knowledge. It’s a comfortable place to learn.
Through your Club, you won the Samsung App Challenge. Congratulations! How did that happen?
Last year, two girls I code with told me about a challenge where we could create an app wireframe and compete for a prize. We kept working on it and came up with an idea - MusikLearn. It enhances brain function for students through digital word games and music. The app targets students with dyslexia and autism but works for any student. Depending on the subject area and disability, the app helps students learn new concepts by connecting those ideas to sound and music.
What was the hardest part of learning to code?
It’s just getting started, especially when you’re learning a whole new language. It’s also hard just being in the minority - there just aren’t a lot of girls in most classes.
Is that why it’s important to teach girls to code?
I think it’s important to give everyone the opportunity to learn to code. Some girls might want to know how to code, but just think they can’t do it because of what other people say.
What advice would you give to girls who are interested in learning how to code or who are struggling to stick with it?
For girls just starting out, I’d say just go for it. No matter what happens, you’ll be learning something amazing. For girls who are struggling, try to find a way to make it fun. Just make something you enjoy with code. Starting out with a really hard program can be hard and not very fun.
Want to participate in a Girls Who Code Club like Cassie?
Hello! I’m Kristi, a teacher for Girls Who Code at Pixar, and I’m back again this week to give you an inside look at our . Here’s the scoop on week 3.
It’s time for another exciting week, and today I started off with teaching (OOP), a new and difficult concept. We started with extending their bouncing ball projects from last week, creating bouncing balls using OOP.
After lunch, my students pulled a NEW PRANK on me that I did not see coming at all. In the afternoon, we had a lovely presentation by about the storyboarding and editing process of Pixar movies. For the rest of the day the students worked on a project to create a scene of falling snow.
This morning, I gave my students a little more time to finish their falling snow project before we moved onto the next one: the City Scroller project. To make sure everyone had an equal time on the computer, we made the groups switch who was using the computer every ten minutes. The City Scroller project is a hard one, so the students continued to work on it the rest of the day.
They did not pull a prank on me today, which just made me more suspicious of them…
This morning was spent continuing the City Scroller project, and everyone worked really hard. This was the most difficult project so far, and the class started getting frustrated. I reminded them of our class phrase, “just keep coding,” and they managed to finish it a little before lunch. We then played a very fast game of mafia before we headed to lunch. After lunch, I expanded on what they’ve learned so far with OOP, and taught them about inheritance. They then expanded on their City Scroller project to add a block that would act like a player on the screen. They spent the rest of the day working on this while Amanda, Rhea, and I did everything we could to assist them. After class, Amanda, Rhea, and I had training for an upcoming workshop the students will be doing. Michael Frederickson taught us the basics of and how to integrate Python code to move Pixar characters around the screen. This was very exciting and I can’t wait for the students to do it next week!
Today was our trip to ! The Square and Twitter programs were also there, so it was a great opportunity to meet students from other programs. Dolby had all of us do an icebreaker in the beginning to get us to mingle with the other programs. For the rest of the day, they randomly assigned us to tables and groups to encourage us to meet new people. Tara Murphy and Poppy Crum gave presentations on Dolby and how they come up with new innovations. At lunch, we had the opportunity to network with Dolby employees. Each table had at least one female technical intern or employee. They really took an interest in GWC and what the students are doing. After lunch they broke us up into groups to demo some of their products. This was very fascinating and a lot of fun. The day ended with a discussion of the girls’ experiences and what they liked about the tour. Everyone had a ton of fun!
Last week my students expressed interest in me bringing my personal desktop to teach them about the parts of a computer. So, this morning I did exactly that. I opened up my computer and talked about each part I had and what role that part plays. I took some parts out like the hard drives, graphics card, and RAM sticks, and talked about the process of building your own computer. During lunch, we decided to watch together as a class. However, after lunch our day was cut short due to the protests that were going to happen in the Bay Area.
Are you interested in learning to code or being a #TeacherWhoCodes? Learn more .
Hello there! I’m Stacy Phan, an alumni from the at Pixar in 2015 and a current for the 2016 Summer Immersion Program at GE. I recently graduated from San Leandro High School and I wanted to make sure that I was representing everything I care about around my neck as I accepted my diploma…especially Girls Who Code. So, I created my very own Girls Who Code stole.
If you’re like me and want to show off your status as a girl who codes at graduation - it could be your Summer Immersion Program graduation or even a future high school or college graduation - follow the steps below to create you own DIY Girls Who Code stole!
1. Design your stole.
I drew out different designs until I settled on one that I really liked. I included the Girls Who Code logo, the name of the Summer Immersion Program I did, and “<b> woman </b>.”
2. Find a customization vendor.
I contacted a local customization shop in my city to see what the costs would be to create my design.
3. Order your stole.
I ordered a (it comes in tons of different colors).
4. Finalize the customization.
After receiving the stole, I went to the customization store to show them my design and figure out if embroidery or vinyl print would be best. We ended up going with vinyl just because the stole I got was pretty thin satin and I didn’t want the embroidery to go through and show on the other side. I had a friend digitize my paper design on Adobe Illustrator so that the people making my stole could use it for the vinyl print.
5. Show off your stole at graduation!
After 1.5 days, I had a personalized Girls Who Code stole - just in time for graduation!
Here are some additional tips and tricks that I wish I had followed to make the process easier:
1. Plan ahead.
I did not plan ahead, and had to pay an extra $4 for rush shipping. Also, digitize your design sooner than later. Whether it’s you or a friend who is doing it, make sure you finish up your design in advance so you can speed up the process of having the stole made.
2. Group order.
When you order in bulk, usually the order will be cheaper if the design is all the same. If you were all from the same summer program, the shop making your stoles might be willing to give you a discount. Or, if you decide not to put the name of your specific Summer Immersion Program, you could get more than twenty girls in on the order and it will definitely be cheaper overall.
3. Add your name.
This will increase the cost if you have it done at the store, but if you go to Michaels, they have iron-on embroidery and then you can make your stole even more customized and personal.
4. Add decorations.
I didn’t really have time to do this, nor did I particularly want to just because I wanted a very simple look. However, if you want to spice up your stole a bit, get a hot glue gun and drop by and there are a ton of things you could get to decorate your stole: fake flowers, rhinestones, glitter, ribbon, and more!
Do you want to learn to code and join Stacy and 10,000 other girls who code? near you!
Hello! My name is Kristi, and this is my second year teaching for . This year I have been placed at Pixar, something I’m just as excited about as the students. Each week this summer I’ll be writing about my experience as a so you can see how different it is from the other side.
You may be asking yourself, “Why Week 0?”
Week 0 is when my two TA’s, Amanda and Rhea, and I do everything we can to get ready for the summer.
It’s not time to go to Pixar yet, so today I’m working from home. The first thing I do after checking my email is look at Piazza. This is a forum for the teaching staff of all the Summer Immersion Programs to ask questions and get advice. Many teachers ask questions that are relevant for everybody, so it’s good to stay up to date on it. I spend a majority of the rest of the day going through all the documents GWC has provided for me, and bookmarking the most important ones. I quickly glance through the curriculum and start working on projects for Week 1. The last hour of the day I do a check-in via Google Hangout with my TA’s.
Today’s the day I get to go to Pixar! I have been waiting months for this. The meeting isn’t until 4pm, so I work from home all morning. I begin the process of going through lecture slides provided by GWC and updating them to match my teaching style and how I like to explain things. Finally, 2:30pm comes around and it’s time to make the journey to Pixar.
When I get there, I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas morning! We meet with Erin, Alyssa, and Addie, who will be helping us with anything we need. They give us a quick tour, and then show us the classroom. That is the moment it really hits me. This year is going to be completely different from last year. Up until this point I had pictured my old classroom at eBay. It scares me a little that I will have to come up with a new routine. After the tour, we discuss logistics for the summer and the “Meet and Greet” with the students and parents on Wednesday.
At 6pm it’s time to call it a day and drive home.
I’m working from home again this morning, mostly going through lecture slides and making sure I know everything about the projects the students will do. When 2:30pm hits, it’s time to once again make the journey to Pixar. Tonight is the Meet and Greet, and I want to be there by 4pm to help set up. We go over logistics again with Erin, and practice our introductions. At 5:30pm people start arriving, and I get very nervous about meeting the parents.
While everyone eats and mingles, we have them play . After that, we take them to a theater where we give an overview of GWC and talk about our coding background. Then it’s time for the classroom tour and we end the night with a screening of Finding Dory!
Confession time: Teachers don’t know everything.
Specifically, I don’t know much about robotics and circuits. For one week of the summer we’ll be working with , which I’m very excited about, though I barely know anything about them. I spend all of Thursday learning as much as I can about them so I can feel more confident in my ability to each that section.
The laptops are ready for us to check, so the TA’s and I meet with Erin at Pixar first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, some of the programs we need did not install correctly so we spend the day going through each laptop and installing them. While I took charge of this, Amanda and Rhea wrote personalized notes on post-its that they put on each student’s laptop. We also organize our classroom supplies, cleaned off the white boards, and discussed the agenda for Day 1. We finished installing programs on all but a few laptops, but decided to call it a day by that point. We went home excited for our first week!
Do you have a question for Kristi? Email us at !
How much do you want an autonomous car? Us, too!
Meet Sarah Houts, a research scientist at who works on their automated driving team. Growing up, Sarah wanted to be an astronaut. She loved science fiction and the idea of exploring unexplored terrain. Her father encouraged her to pursue her interest, so she ended up majoring in Aerospace engineering in college and then pursued a graduate degree in engineering. Both required her to learn to code.
Through her studies, Sarah moved from space exploration to underwater exploration, creating an autonomous underwater vehicle. “It was really awesome because the sea floor is the last great unexplored place on Earth.” she explains.
Sarah moved to Ford’s Automated Driving team earlier this year because she wanted to apply her technical skills to tangible parts of peoples’ lives. Her job is figuring out how the autonomous vehicle is located in the world. We have major job envy.
Sarah spoke to us about the technology that she relies on every day in her technology-filled life. Check out her Friday faves below.
1. My Smart Phone: I don’t use it very much as I’m not an extensive user of apps. However, I pair it with my FitBit and try to keep track of how many steps I’m taking every day. I also recently found out that I’m pregnant, so I’m using my phone to help with my pregnancy.
2. GPS: I look up directions before I leave work to find out the fastest way to get home.
3. My Computer: I use it all day at work to do what I do.
4. My TV: When I’m home, my husband and I like to watch TV. There are a lot of things that get used to figure out what we’re going to watch. For example, we use Netflix to figure out what I like based on their suggestions. It required a lot of effort from engineers to create the algorithm to suggest what I should watch. I love how they break their suggestions down into categories. They always know what I want to watch; it’s every category that I like right in front of my eyes!
5. Electric Car: I’m figuring out what type of car to buy right now. As I’m in the industry, it’s interesting to decide what features matter to me in my daily life.
5:01 pm: Nap time’s over. Time to get up and go win a !
5:03 pm: What do I wear? I want to feel comfortable, since I’ll be up all night, but I always feel most confident when I’m more dressed up. I should probably try to fit in though, right? No, if I’m going to do this, I’m doing it my way. I’ll just wear my usual hoodie and leggings.
5:30 pm: Laptop, charger, phone, charger, glasses, blanket, water. All packed.
6:00 pm: I guess I should’ve left sooner. It looks like the best tables are full. Well, I’ll just find a group that needs another person. Hmm… who looks friendly? Or at least willing to take in a stray? I hope I find a group – it would be so embarrassing if the guy with the microphone has to announce to everyone I’m looking for teammates. Oh awesome, that guy’s waving me over.
6:15 pm: They’re nice, and our project idea is awesome! It always seems like judges prefer the projects that are made up of complex code and solve real problems. Games can be cool, but I think our application has a better shot at winning. Oh, are those snacks?!
7:20 pm: It probably would’ve been a good idea to review Java before this. Well, I’m remembering the syntax slowly and all object-oriented languages are pretty similar.
8:43 pm: Why can’t I find the bug in my code? I’m positive I wrote this function correctly, so the logic is correct. It must be a syntax error. I can’t find it. Ugh, time for a Chipotle break.
10:58 pm: Yes! We’re making such great progress! I’m even helping out the guys with their code. I wonder what the other teams are coding? I hope our project is impressive enough. I feel confident about the code, but is it really scalable? Is it profitable? These are all considerations that need to be mentioned when we present. Well, focus on one thing at a time. The pitch is the last part of the project to deal with.
1:15 am: I would kill for a coffee right now.
1:17 am: Oh good, I see a mentor heading towards me! I could definitely use some help :)
1:52 am: Wow, that mentor was awesome! She was so sweet and helpful. It’s hard to believe she gets to code for a living. It would be like solving puzzles as a job! Ok, focus. Time to finish this Class and move onto the main one.
3:42 am: Come on, you can do this! Just stay awake. Stay. Awake. Ok fine, maybe a ten-minute nap won’t set me back too much.
4:12 am: I should’ve set an alarm. Well, now it’s time to start working on the interface. The guys made some great progress, so I think we can finally get started on the front-end.
6:21 am: Almost done! It’s not beautiful, but our project functions perfectly. I hope the judges care more about the complexity of the code than they do about the interface.
7:15 am: Neither of these guys looks particularly excited about pitching, but I’m happy to do it! Now I’ll get to present and defend our project to the judges. Ok, power stance. Stand up straight. Smile. Pitch time!
8:30 am: I think that went well! One of the judges asked some tough questions, but I think I defended our project confidently. They seemed impressed I was so comfortable with the code… I’m not quite sure if I should their surprise as a compliment or an insult, but either way I’m glad they liked the presentation. At least the hard part’s over – now we just have to wait.
9:42 am: While I love hearing the other groups’ pitches and I’m super impressed by everyone’s projects, can I go home and sleep now?
10:25 am: Did I just hear that correctly? Maybe I’m so exhausted I’ve started hallucinating. No, it looks like I’m right – we won! I don’t even feel tired anymore. Sure, you can take my picture.
10:42 am: It feels like I’m sleep-walking back to my dorm. This was so much fun, though! I can’t wait for the next hackathon.
11:00 am: Zzzzzz
Want to meet some awesome female coders and create your own hackathon team? Join a!
By Lucy Berman
Picture Credits: ,
Meet Maya and Lucy, two middle school coders from New Jersey. These girls not only have big aspirations - a professional soccer player and a star on Broadway - but have also already started using their knowledge of technology to help change the world!
After hearing about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Maya and Lucy wanted to help. They built a website, “,” to educate middle and high school students about lead poisoning and how to prevent it. They hope to take a trip to Flint to interview those affected by the water crisis and help bring awareness to the problem.
Read the Q&A below to learn how Maya and Lucy aren’t letting their gender or age stop them from building technology that can improve society.
Q&A with Maya & Lucy:
Tell us about yourselves.
Lucy: I am 11.5 and go to the Hoboken Charter School.
Maya: I am 12 years old and also go to the Hoboken Charter School.
What’s your dream job?
Lucy: I have 3 ideas. I want to be an engineer, a computer scientist or sing on Broadway.
Maya: I love to play soccer. I wanna be a soccer player or biochemist.
Why did you join Girls Who Code?
Lucy: Our math teacher convinced us to do it.
Maya: We though it was a cool to be able to make websites.
What have you learned?
Maya: We’ve learned to build a website with HTML.
Lucy: It was really interesting learning how to make a website from scratch. You have to be very precise.
You created a website to educate other students about the Flint water crisis and lead poisoning. Where did that inspiration come from?
Maya: We do community service every year and this year we learned how some people don’t have clean water to drink. When we heard about what was happening in Flint, we wanted to help because kids like us are being affected by it. Our website teaches people what lead poisoning is and how to prevent it.
Lucy: People can take a survey after to tell us what they learned and how we can make it even more helpful. It’s directed towards middle and high school students. There’s also an interactive map that shows areas in the US that have the highest risk of lead poisoning. There are different colors on a scale of 1-10.
Maya: We want to expand the website so there’s more content and maybe even go to Flint to interview kids there.
Want to join a Girls Who Code club like Maya and Lucy?
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.
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!
“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.
Interested in learning how to 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 .
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much power they have with the technology they have at home.” - Anusha Khan
Meet Anusha Khan, a writer, volunteer and a girl who codes. Growing up, Anusha wasn’t interested in computers and thought that computer science wasn’t for her. After learning to code, Anusha now plans to major in computer science and wants to teach other people to code so that they have the same “superpower” that she has. She’s even received a scholarship from Apple to attend their Worldwide Developers Conference and hopes her future career will combine code with journalism.
Learn more about Anusha, her passions, and the technology she can’t live without in our Q&A below.
Q&A with Anusha Khan:
What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be a journalist.
What is your dream job now?
I want to find a way to combine journalism and code to do something awesome for the world.
What does it mean to be part of the Girls Who Code movement?
literally translates to “opportunity” in my mind.
It’s hard to forget the impact this organization has had on my life. Before Girls Who Code, I had no idea what I wanted to major in - computer science was the last thing I thought I was going to study in college.
Yet, after the , I realized that programming was something I actually enjoyed. I didn’t have to be a genius, just being me was enough.
Did you always like computers?
No, I didn’t. I always thought computers were for people who were really smart and really good at math. It wasn’t until I took a class about online networking that I realized how important computer science was.
What piece of technology are you most reliant on?
My Mac Book. It’s something I rely on 24/7. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much power they have with the technology they have at home.
What was the hardest part of learning to code?
My biggest problem was understanding that you don’t need to be great at math to learn to code. As long as you try it out, you’ll realize that there’s a world of opportunities available to you.
Have you ever encountered people who stereotype you because you’re a girl who codes?
I feel like a lot of people view woman who code as a prop in the computer science industry - they believe it is just a fad. I have overcome that by showing them that my ideas are here to stay and be implemented.
How has coding made you more confident?
It’s like having a superpower.
Is coding creative? How?
Coding is just like writing a story. You have a beginning, middle and end. You are able to create an entire world with code.
How does code tie to your passions?
A big passion of mine is volunteering and there are so many organizations looking for women to help other women learn to code. I now teach other women to code. I also coded an app called “Remind Them,” which is an app for students who have to take medication and aren’t sure what the purpose is.
Similarly, girls I’ve met along the way are majoring in theater, medicine and political science. You can combine code with anything.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Reshma Saujani, the founder of , stated in a New York Magazine interview,“ I had a colossal failure; I was humiliated but I’m still alive. Now, I feel like I can do anything."
I remember thinking when I first read that statement that it was a crazy idea. I still think it’s crazy. However, this statement really motivates me to try because a lot of us are fearful of failure.
What would you say to a girl who thinks coding is not for her?
It is for you. You just have to try. You don’t need to be super smart to code. All you need is a passion to do something for the world.
Want to learn how to code like Anusha?
“Just how becoming good at something takes work and time, the glass is only half empty if you let it appear that way.” - Robin Shum
Meet Robin Shum, a high school senior from New York. Aside from coding, Robin is a Girl Scout who enjoys baking, cosmetics, jewelry-making and is the Treasurer of her school’s Olympiad team. Robin loves to code because of the creativity is fosters. She hopes to use her knowledge of coding and technology to start her own cosmetics company that is eco-friendly and non-toxic.
Learn more about Robin in our Q&A below.
Q&A with Robin Shum:
What was your Girls Who Code experience like?
was the best summer experience I ever had; I think I felt genuinely happy every single day of those seven weeks because I was surrounded by new friends who encouraged and supported each other through our struggles of learning how to code. I never realized how creative the field of computer science could be!
So, coding is creative?
Creativity isn’t just in physical art. You can be creative with code. When you code, you solve problems. There are many ways to code a solution to something and you can personalize how you want to solve it.
What was your dream job growing up?
I wanted to be a fashion magazine editor-in-chief. Fashion is so creative and I wanted to control the direction of creativity in fashion by being an editor-in-chief.
What’s your dream job now?
I want to be a software engineer or CEO of my own company.
What type of company?
I’ve been interested in cosmetics and how most of them have toxins in them and fantasize about starting a cosmetics company that is eco-friendly and non-toxic. The summer before I attended , I interned at a Chemical Engineering lab where we worked on applying a non-toxic surfactant to oil and water with the potential for use in cosmetics. That sparked my interest.
Right now, I’m actually working on my girl scout project in cosmetic awareness. Part of the project is creating a database that holds information about non-toxic products. You can check out the project .
Were you always interested in computers?
I was always fascinated by computers. I discovered computer science in high school because my sister was majoring in electrical engineering. When we were younger she would teach me quick codes on the keyboard. My sister actually found the Girls Who Code opportunity and was too old to apply but thought I might like the opportunity.
What was the hardest part of learning to code?
It was difficult to grasp the very concept of coding at first: how can words typed into a little box tell the computer what to do? Once I understood the proper syntax and what each command did, though, coding became less intimidating.
Have people ever stereotyped you because you’re a girl who codes?
In my experience, the hardest part about being a woman in particular is that people don’t expect you to be interested in computer science, though that just may be because I don’t spew tech knowledge at school.
Why do you think it’s important to teach girls to code?
Generally speaking, girls in my generation and prior generations haven’t been introduced to computer science at an early age while many boys have. Our lack of exposure shows in the statistical demographics of tech companies. So, it’s important to teach girls computer science so we can reach gender parity and remove the “boy’s club” label on tech companies. No one should be afraid to go into an industry because there are no role models who look like them.
Has coding made you feel more confident?
Learning to code made me see that coding is not as intimidating as it seems. I’ve learned to just give things a try and even if I fail, it doesn’t mean that I’m not good enough to code. Becoming good at something takes work and time.
Has this mentality helped your perspective on failure?
Definitely. Failure is all subjective. I think I felt like the biggest failure when I was rejected from my “dream school” on March 31st. My initial thought was, “Oh my goodness, my life has amounted to nothing.” What had I done wrong? I indexed my extracurriculars, grades, essays. In retrospect, I realize how ridiculously dramatic I was being. A few days later, after I got that dramatic response out of my system, I realized a few things: although this one thing didn’t work out, I didn’t magically forget how to debug code, make jewelry, or research toxic cosmetics. It took lots of work and time to learn those things, and my one setback wasn’t going to make those achievements disappear. My life was still something, I was okay! So what if one thing didn’t go the way I planned? That’ll probably happen a lot more in my life. I could view my rejection as being labelled “Not Good Enough for Princeton,” but that self-pity won’t get me anywhere. College rejections–and failures in general–don’t determine anyone’s self-worth. Instead, I view the acceptance I did receive as a new, exciting opportunity and move on from there: I’m going to college, going to live in a new place and learn new things! The glass is only half empty if you let it appear that way.
Want to learn how to code like Robin?