On Thursday, Oct. 18, the Council for Women of Boston College hosted Reshma Saujani, founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, as the speaker for the annual CWBC Colloquium at the Yawkey Center Murray Function Room.
The CWBC began hosting their annual Colloquium in 2015 with the purpose of featuring exceptional women in leadership roles. Saujani encompasses the values that the CWBC Colloquium would like to highlight. She is a woman of color who founded her own nonprofit organization, wrote a New York Times Bestseller titled Girls Who Code, and held the position of Deputy Public Advocate of New York City among other accomplishments.
Saujani’s nonprofit was the main subject of her speech at BC. She began the Colloquium by discussing her run for Congress at 33 years old. Although she failed to win the election, the experience led her to the realization that running for Congress was the first time in her life that she had acted bravely.
She became interested in the way girls are socialized to aspire perfection and fear failure to a greater extent than boys. According to Saujani, “Boys are habituated to take risk after risk,” but girls are taught to stick to what they know.
This realization led Saujani to believe that the disparity in bravery among genders was responsible for the underrepresentation of women in STEM, particularly computer science where fewer than 1 in 5 graduates are women.
To combat this, Saujani established Girls Who Code in 2012. Girls Who Code is an organization that not only introduces girls to coding but also aims to socialize them into taking risks when it comes to pursuing their interests.
Saujani believes that girls have to get comfortable with imperfection in order to code because it is, “an endless process of trial and error.” When the organization was first founded, only 20 girls were enrolled in the program. Currently, the program has educated about 90,000 girls in total and hopes to completely erase gender inequality in computer science by 2027.