Message from Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code, has taught computing skills to and inspired more than 10,000 girls across America. At the opening general session of the 2017 ALA Annual Conference this past June, Reshma spoke about Girls Who Code, how they are working to teach 100,000 girls to code by the end of 2018, and the organization’s many intersections with libraries.

Reshma is motivated to make sure that libraries – especially those who are interested in developing coding resources and programs – know about her free resources. As you will read in her message below, she invites ALA members and advocates to join the Girls Who Code movement.

To request a free Girls Who Code Starter Kit, including tips for leaders, giveaways and more, email: schoolandlibrary@us.penguingroup.com

 Girls Who Code Book CoverI’m Reshma Saujani, the CEO & Founder of Girls Who Code, the national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech.

Computing skills are the most sought-after in the US job market, but girls across the US are being left behind. Today, less than a quarter of computing jobs are held by women, and that number is declining.

First off, I am not a coder. My background is as a lawyer and politician. In 2010, I was the first South Asian-American woman to run for Congress. When I was running for office, I spent a lot of time visiting schools. That’s when I noticed something. In every computer lab, I saw dozens of boys learning to code and training to be tech innovators. But there were barely any girls! This didn’t seem right to me. I did some research and learned that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million open jobs in computing, but fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women. With women making up almost half of our work force, it’s imperative for our economy that we’re preparing our girls for the future of work.

I decided I was going to teach girls to code and close the gender gap in tech. What started as an experiment with 20 girls in a New York City classroom has grown to a movement of 40,000 middle and high school girls across the states.

In 2017, we’re expanding our movement with the launch of a 13-book series as an invitation for girls everywhere to learn to code and change the world. These books include explanations of computer science concepts using real life examples; relatable characters and profiles of women in tech. It’s one of the first times that the story of computer science has been told through so many girls’ voices. We’re doing this because literary representation matters; one of the best ways to spark girls’ interest is to share stories of girls who look like them. When you teach girls to code, they become change agents and can build apps, programs, and movements to help tackle our country’s toughest problems.

With these books and our Clubs Program, Girls Who Code seeking to teach 100,000 girls to code by the end of 2018. Clubs are free after-school programs for girls to use computer science to impact their community and join our sisterhood of supportive peers and role models. Clubs are led by Facilitators, who can be librarians, teachers, computer scientists, parents or volunteers from any background or field. Many Facilitators have no technical experience and learn to code alongside their Club members.

We hope you’ll join our movement by bringing these books and a Club to your library.

About Emily Wagner

Emily Wagner is the Information Manager for ALA's Washington Office. She earned her B.A. in Literature from Mount Holyoke College and her M.S.L.I.S. from The Catholic University of America. She can be reached via e-mail at ewagner@alawash.org.

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