I'm A Girl Who Codes





Posts tagged with ‘technology’

A Day in the Life of a Teacher Who Codes: Goodbye

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.

A Day in the Life of a Teacher Who Codes: Final Week :(

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 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!

A Day in the Life of a Teacher Who Codes: Week 2


Hello! I’m Kristi, a teacher for at Pixar and I’m back again this week sharing the behind the scenes of our . Here’s the inside scoop on week 2.


It’s time to scratch what we’ve been doing with (pun intended) and start learning about . Python is a big jump from Scratch so today was filled with difficult lessons and fun projects like Mad Libs and creating a Text Adventure game. Today was also the first in a series of weekly lunches the students will have with their mentors. Each student is paired up with one female employee with a programming background at Pixar. Since the students were occupied during lunch, Amanda, Rhea, and I used this valuable time to meet with Erin to discuss the upcoming schedule. After lunch, Danielle Feinberg came to visit us and spoke about her Computer Science background and what she does at Pixar. Talk about a dream job! The students pulled another prank on me, and it starts to seem like this will become a daily occurrence. After that, the students worked on their projects for the rest of the day. Amanda, Rhea, and I ended the day with our weekly meeting with our site lead.


The students didn’t get all the time they needed to finish their Text Adventure project yesterday, so I started this morning by giving them some extra time. We then had a panel of women engineers at Pixar, and they answered questions the students had. It was interesting to hear each of their experiences, and also to learn some fun Pixar facts. After that, I continued the day by teaching some more complex Python concepts, including functions. In my experience, functions are a big hurdle students have to get over, and I saw a lot of struggle with it. The majority of the students finished their projects by the end of the day, but I could tell their understanding wasn’t quite deep enough. I took note of that and decided we should go over it again the next chance we get. Again my students pranked me, but this time I got them back. Two can play at this game ;)!


We did more Python today and the students created random generators of band names and Haikus. There were some hilarious combinations. Lucia Greco, a blind expert on technology, came to talk and really opened the students’ eyes to thinking about people with disabilities when designing projects. 

I continued with lessons on how to read programming documentation and how to efficiently use Google. Yes, googling is a real skill programmers need to know! They practiced these skills on a project using Pygame, and some of the students finished it by the end of the day. Again, they pranked me, and again I got them back. We’re all starting to have a lot of fun with this, and we’re trying to think of new things to do. 



As planned, I reviewed functions and gave students an assignment that focuses on how to utilize functions. I think this helped a lot and I believe my students now have a good understanding of functions. Before lunch, we went outside and played a game since we haven’t had many opportunities to do so this week. After lunch we got on the bus and headed over to for our first field trip. The students got to tour a startup company and see what it looks like on the inside. They were able to ask questions to a panel of employees, and I was so proud of the questions my students came up with. MemSQL was kind enough to provide food and giveaways during the trip, so of course the students loved that. They had a fun time, but we were also able to have a serious discussion on diversity in the workplace, since MemSQL has an almost all male engineering team and that is something they are aware of and want to change. By the time we got back to Pixar, it was time to go home. Amanda, Rhea, and I stayed for a little bit to clean up the classroom, reflect on how the week went, and prepare for anything we need for next week.

Are you interested in learning to code or being a #TeacherWhoCodes? Learn more . 

Maya Espinel & Lucy Hartigan: Proving Age is Just a Number


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. 

What’s next?

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?

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!

Anusha Khan: There is No “I” in “Code”


“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?

Robin Shum: Going for Gold - a Girl [Scout] Who Codes


“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?

Kaylee Llewellyn: 💤😍 😋🙏🌊🌞


“I find it really helpful to embrace a stereotype and then put my own spin on it. I’ll admit I’m a huge “nerd”, but I also don’t view that as being a negative thing. I love coding and Star Wars, but I’m also a fashion blogger who loves to scrapbook and wants to learn how to surf.”  ~Kaylee Llewellyn

We’re ending Teacher Appreciation Week with Kaylee Llewellyn, a fashion blogger, avid scrapbooker, Star Wars buff and a teacher who codes. In our Q&A with Kaylee, we learned about how she deals with stereotypes and her outlook on failure. We’re definitely going to take a leaf out of her book next time we fail!

Q&A with Kaylee:

Which of your recently used emojis represents you perfectly?

💤😍 😋🙏🌊🌞

What’s your favorite piece of technology?

My smartphone

What made you join the Girls Who Code movement?

I love being a programmer and my biggest regret was that I was not able to get involved in coding earlier in my academic career. I was really excited to have the opportunity to get to share my enthusiasm for programming with other girls and help de-stigmatize women in tech for girls who are curious about getting involved with coding.

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

At first, I found it challenging to be very creative and logical simultaneously when coding. Programming forces you to think outside the box about how you’re going to solve a problem while also keeping you within the bounds of whichever programming language you are using. It took me a while to learn how to break down large problems into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Is coding creative?

I find coding extremely creative. Coding essentially sets up a task for what needs to be accomplished through a program and as the coder you’re given endless possibilities of implementing a solution.

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

YES. As a half-Korean female programmer, a lot of people would chalk up my being a programmer to me being Asian. I make sure to emphasize the reasons why I personally love being a programmer and also make my interests outside of computer science known. Personally, I find it really helpful to embrace a stereotype and then put my own spin on it. I’ll admit I’m a huge “nerd”, but I also don’t view that as being a negative thing. I love coding and Star Wars, but I’m also a fashion blogger who loves to scrapbook and wants to learn how to surf. There’s always more to someone than a stereotype and I think it’s most helpful to flip those stereotypes on their heads to combat this negative attitude towards women programmers.

How has coding made you feel more confident?

I love knowing that I can solve just about any problem I want to. Coding teaches you great problem solving skills and that’s a skill that most people lack. It is great knowing that if I put my mind to something, I can solve any problem I want.

Tell us about a time you overcame failure.

I still remember the first time I’d ever failed a test. It was in AP Chemistry, and on the first test I scored a whopping 38%. My stomach dropped when my teacher handed back my test and tears came to my eyes. I thought there was something wrong with me because I’d walked out thinking that I had done well. After talking to my teacher though, I quickly realized that I many simple errors combined with his strict no partial credit policy had led to my low grade. The most important thing that I learned was that failures are just a part of succeeding. On the next test I rebounded very well. Overcoming failures is difficult because once they are in the past they cannot be changed. It is good to think of them as learning experiences rather than indicators of talent or self-worth.

What do you say to the girl that thinks that coding is not for her?

I’d say don’t give up! There are a wide variety of coding applications, maybe you just haven’t found the one for you.

Who is your role model?

My mom.

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

Be brave and don’t be afraid of taking a leap of faith.

How does code tie to your other passions?

I’m a huge fashion blogger - which is a cool way to tie technology into my passion for fashion.

Interested in being a teacher for Girls Who Code?

Adrienne Shulman: Teacher Who Codes


“I wouldn’t describe myself as someone interested in “computers.” I love solving problems, and that’s exactly what computer science and coding is all about.” - Adrienne Shulman

Meet Adrienne Shulman, a , mother of three and a woman who codes. In our Q&A with Adrienne, she dispels the myth that you have to be a genius to code and explains why you don’t even need to LOVE computers to love coding! 

Q&A with Adrienne Shulman:

Why did you join the Girls Who Code movement?

As a women with a 16 year career in technology, I see the huge gender disparity first-hand every day. I read an article in the New York Times in April 2013 that mentioned Girls Who Code, and I immediately emailed to ask how I could !

What was your dream job growing up?

There is too much pressure to answer this question, and I never really knew WHAT I wanted to be. I certainly didn’t want to be a programmer, though. I hardly knew what programming was when I was growing up in the 80s/90s.  

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

Nothing! It came very easily to me.

Have people every stereotyped you because you are a coder?

There have been several times when I’m in a work meeting and others in the room - men and women both - have assumed that I’m a project manager and not a coder.  

How has coding helped you become comfortable with failure?

Balancing family and a career is always a challenge. I have 3 children (ages 5, 7 and 9) and a demanding full time job, but making it balance was never as hard as it was the first year after my first child was born. I switched to a part time job when my first child was 1 year old and was able to stay in the game to keep my skills current, keep earning a paycheck, and keep continuity on my resume until I was comfortable going back full time. What’s wonderful about coding is its flexibility; it’s a job that you can easily do part time, from home, or at odd-hours. It can be perfect for balancing your home life and your work. 

Were you always interested in computers?

No, and I wouldn’t even describe myself today as someone interested in "computers.” I love solving problems, and that’s exactly what computer science and coding is all about!

What were your other passions growing up?
Horseback riding, gymnastics, cheerleading and tennis. 

Do you think coding is creative?

Is this a trick question? Coding is used to create SO MUCH, from the obvious things like websites and apps to the physical world of robotics, medical devices, cars, film and media. Now, ! It’s hard to find an area in life or an industry that coding has not helped create. Also, unlike math where there is often just one right answer to a problem, with coding there are many ways to solve a problem!

Who is your role model?

Sheryl Sandberg

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

Everything written in her book Lean In.  

What would you say to the girl who doesn’t think coding is for her?

I would ask her why and ask her what she thinks coding is. Non-techies seem to think coding is some secret club and that it’s very difficult to learn. I imagine some coders like to encourage this air of mystique but I like to dispel the myth. Coders aren’t coders because they are smarter than you; coders are smarter because they code. Anyone can learn to code. I believe role models are important and if a girl has never met a female coder in person and doesn’t see women or girl coders in pop culture, it’s hard for her to understand that coding could be for her. 

How can a girl who wants to learn to code get started?

The obvious answer is to start a ! There are plenty of free online resources to learn coding, and I certainly encourage that, but the encouragement you get by joining a group of other girls in a club is incredibly valuable. 

What piece of technology do you rely on most?

My Tesla. 

Follow Adrienne:

None! FOMO, take that!

Interested in being a teacher for Girls Who Code?

Erik Nauman: Teacher Who Codes


“I was a teacher before I learned how to code. I became interested because it looked like a skill that offered huge possibilities for being creative. I saw people making and programming robots and coding graphical animations and thought it looked like a superpower, a way to make magical things happen with machines.” - Erik Nauman

Meet Erik Nauman, an educational technologist - someone who works in educational technology - at The Hewitt School in New York City. He helped start a local  to ensure that his students became part of the larger women in technology network. 

As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, we interviewed Erik and learned about some of his passions outside of technology along with his favorite parts of technology.

Q&A with Erik Naumann:

What was your dream job growing up?

I wanted to be an artist or a musician. 

What do you do now?

Now, I work at The Hewitt School in NYC in educational technology. 

Were you always interested in computers?

No, I really only became interested in computers in the past 10 years. Growing up, I was most interested in art, music, teaching, learning, and nature.

Why did you join the Girls Who Code movement?

I wanted to give my students the feeling of belonging to a greater community of girls in computer science.


Do you sense a fear or insecurity around learning to code from your students? How does being in an all female environment affect that?

In my experience teaching at an all girls school, I do see many girls feeling intimidated when they see code and are expected to work with it. However, there are many who also find it amazing and exciting to learn. I feel like those who get intimidated are seeing it through stereotypes that tell them girls are not able to code, are not good with computers, math, or science. When I teach, I expose my students to programming in interesting and fun ways so that over time they’ll see coding as a normal and thing to do, just like writing or reading.

Why did you learn to code?

I was a teacher before I learned how to code. I became interested because it looked like a skill that offered huge possibilities for being creative. I saw people making and programming robots and coding graphical animations and thought it looked like a superpower, a way to make magical things happen with machines.

What was the hardest part of learning to code?

Learning the basic, common concepts shared by many programming languages took a while for me. However, having an understanding of those concepts makes it easier to learn any new language I want to.

Did you ever encounter people who stereotyped you because you code?

People have made the assumption that I can make technology do anything because I can code. I have had to be patient in helping people understand what is reasonable and what is possible.

Has coding made you more confident?

It has opened up creative possibilities that I like to share with people, which has made me happier.

Has coding helped you accept failure?

I had a hard time learning to wire and program an LED matrix. It was really complicated for me and after a couple weeks I gave it up. But later I picked it up again and figured out how to make it work, and eventually it turned into a fun project that was very successful.


Is coding creative? How?

Absolutely! There are usually many ways to do something so just finding solutions to coding problems is a creative process.

Who is your role model?


What’s your favorite piece of advice from your role model?

It’s not so much what she said, but that she considers the big picture in her approach to software development. She always thought about how it will be used and safeguarded to make it dependable under different conditions. That is how her software saved the .

What’s your favorite piece of technology?

I love to work with Arduino micro controllers.


Follow Erik:

Interested in being a teacher for Girls Who Code?

Amilia St. John: Alex St. John’s Daughter & a Proud Girl Who Codes.


Meet Amilia (Mili) St John, a front-end developer based out of Portland, Maine. A week ago, she reminded us why we do the work that we do at Girls Who Code with a , “I am Alex St. John’s Daughter, and He is Wrong About Women in Tech.”

The post is a must read, a brave and honest rebuttal to her father’s “toddler meltdown” in a post he wrote on . She begs her father “for the love of his daughters, to stop hindering our progress as women in the industry and start using his influence to promote positive experiences for minorities in tech.” 

We had the opportunity to interview Mili, hear about why she almost stopped learning to code, and learn how she’s attempting to debug the gender gap in her home state by creating access to technology. 

Q&A with Mili St. John:

What’s your first memory of computers?

My dad came to visit us in Maine and bought us a Nintendo 64. He set it up and bought as many games as possible. He started playing it and actually got so into it that we couldn’t get access to play it for a bit. Once I got the controller, I got really hooked on video games and technology in general.

Were you always interested in learning to code?

For the majority of my life, I truly felt like I was not smart enough to pursue coding. There were a myriad of factors that contributed to this:

  1. My sister was pegged as the smart one from an early age, while I was pegged as the artsy one (check out Mili’s art below)
  2. I went to coding camp as a 12 year-old and struggled - even though the coding camp was for 15-17 year-olds. I was so confused and frustrated by the advance concepts, that I dismissed myself as not being smart enough to code. I punished myself for not immediately understanding coding concepts that were meant to be understood by those much older than me. I did have some excellent experiences at this camp, though, I got to 3D model, build robots and create video games.

When did you pick coding back up?

When I got to college, I ended up applying as a computer science major and got accepted. To be honest, I didn’t get it for the entire first semester. However, there was a spark moment where I realized, “OH, THIS IS WHAT IS GOING ON!” I had to practice and realized it was okay to be the underdog. In the end, I had all of the ability to be a good coder, but distinctly lacked the confidence and the desire to try.

Has learning to code given you more confidence?

Oh ya. I’ve realized it’s not really about base-talent. Some people are more naturally inclined to do things and some people are more naturally inclined to code. If you’re interested in something, you just need to practice.

So, anyone can code with a little practice?

Dedication and practice is all you need to be good at anything. There are some things in my life that I’m naturally talented at, like art, which I practice all the time. Coding, which I’m not naturally talented at, I also practice all the time.

A selection of Mili’s Art: 


So, why did you decide to post about your father on Medium?

When I feel like I need to do something, I’ll sit back for hours and hours and hours and do it until it’s done. I very strongly disagree with my father’s opinions, but have unfortunately ignored them for too many years. It was time to address them. 

How has the response been to your post?

Only positive. I am so amazed by the stories I’ve been getting from the women who have been victims of sexism in the workplace - in major-named companies, by the way. I definitely want to keep working on this.

Why do you think women don’t pursue careers in tech or STEM?

I think the feeling of intellectual inadequacy is an issue that affects a lot of women in STEM. There is a lot of subtle and not so subtle messaging in our society to discourage women from STEM. When a girl actually enters STEM, she is often more harshly judged by her colleagues and it is often assumed that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. This only contributes to her feelings of inadequacy. 

What’s next for you? 

I would like to continue to be a voice for women in tech. The disparity is real and I would like to share experiences with everyone so that they know they are not alone. It is so important for everyone to have a network of alike peers that they can talk to about their experience. 

I grew up in Maine and there was no access to coding then and there still isn’t now. I want to help initiate a change. This mission is not singularly focused on women, but I believe if the message comes from a woman in the first place, more young women will feel comfortable coming forward to participate and pioneer engineering and computer science at their schools. I believe if we start at the root, more women and minorities will be excited to participate from the beginning, and I intend to be very active about encouraging them to.

Who are your role models?

I am very lucky to have been raised and influenced by a family of powerful women.

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

It’s important to take the time to understand what you want to do, practice and take all the necessary steps to get there. It sounds cliche, I know, but it’s true. For example, I love front end development because it’s art and coding. It’s an immediate artistic venture because you can see what you’re creating. 

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

  1. My laptop
  2. , a front end developer network.
  3. that I use to create art
  4. for Java programs
  5. for developer tools

Want to support the Girls Who Code movement?

Coder Confessional: Do You Need to be a Genius to Code?

My dad has been in the tech industry since I was a little girl. I thought he was superman in disguise as my dad and often referred to him as a “computer genius.” Genius was the key word. 

I scored far higher on my math SATs than my verbal SATs but always thought of myself as a creative and humanities type of student. I could never be a “computer genius” like my dad. When I placed into an honors math class my freshman year of college, I thought that there was no place for me in the class as an intended performance arts and journalism major. 


Some - or many - years have passed and I am one week into learning to code. With technology as a professional and personal lifeline, I feel an obligation to learn. 

These are the top ten ways I rely on technology day-in and day-out:

  1. My cell phone alarm clock
  2. Facetime to call my “computer genius” dad on the opposite coast
  3. Duolingo to learn Spanish
  4. Keeping up with friends on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat
  5. Watching all of the things on Netflix
  6. Getting around on Lyft
  7. Listening to all of my favorite artists on Spotify and iTunes (Taylor Swift)
  8. Working for Girls Who Code from anywhere with my Gmail app
  9. Walking from point A to point B with Google maps
  10. Paying my credit card bill

and many many more…

I’ve not yet become completely reliant on Siri but I anticipate her playing a larger role in my life in the coming years. As much as I try to cut technology out of my life, the reality is that it’s not going anywhere and I need it to function on a daily basis. 

So, back to learning to code…

As I start my journey into learning to code, the image of my father as the “computer genius,” is at the forefront of my mind. Of course my father is a genius in my opinion, but do you need to be an actual genius to learn to code?

The answer is no. 

All you need is a willingness to try and a good sense of humor. 

In my first “Intro to Javascript” lesson, I created the snowman below. 


It’s beautiful, right? 

Okay, so it’s not that beautiful but I created it just by typing 15 lines of letters and numbers, known as code. These lines all are very specific directions for the computer. It’s like giving the computer a recipe to make, but this recipe has no shopping or clean-up involved. While it doesn’t result in food, it does result in an image that you can share with you family and friends. 


Creating this not-so-beautiful snowman with code was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I felt smart, capable and challenged. I can’t wait for my next lesson and to one day have the ability to create something that will make my daily life easier.

We’d love to hear about your experiences learning to code, bust myths you’ve heard about coding and answer your questions about what it’s like being a girl who codes. Email us your questions at blog@girlswhocode.com!

And if you’re interested in learning to code,