Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani Aims for Bravery, Not Perfection

IntuitLife, People & Culture Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 9.36.39 AM

Many women aspire to be like Reshma Saujani, the 42-year-old former lawyer and founder of Girls Who Code. After an unsuccessful bid for New York’s 14th congressional district in 2010, Saujani realized that she couldn’t go back to the private sector – she just wasn’t passionate about it. So she looked for where she could make the biggest impact and found that there were no coding programs for girls. Never mind that she herself had no coding experience.

In 2011, Girls Who Code launched with its first class: 20 high school girls in New York, most living below the poverty line and all having an amazing experience in the program. Saujani realized that this is the way she could build an entire generation of changemakers. Today, Girls Who Code has taught coding to 90,000 girls across the U.S.

This includes 100 who have participated in the 7-week Summer Immersion Program at Intuit for the past five years. Intuit’s Mountain View campus became a classroom for 20 girls entering their junior or senior year in high school, where they learned computer science through fun projects like building apps, websites, video games, and robotics.

Saujani has been thinking about bravery a lot these days. It’s the topic of the book she’s been writing for the past two years, “Brave, Not Perfect,” due out in February 2019. That’s also the title of the weekly podcast she’s hosted for the past six months. Her stance is that for girls, perfection is valued more than bravery. Parents are usually more concerned about the cleanliness of their little girls than their little boys. Girls tend to be coddled and protected more than boys, so while boys are taught to be risk-takers, girls develop a fear of failure. And they grow up to become perfectionists. But Saujani believes that you can unteach perfectionism and replace it with bravery. She found her own bravery in her 30s, when she lost miserably in her congressional campaign but, as she said, “I didn’t die.”

All this achievement makes Reshma Saujani a great role model for women who want to effect positive change.

Comments (23) Leave your comment

  1. It is time for realistic training for girls. Many boys get it through sports programs. Not all kids play sports so some miss out on the training. Any program that emphasizes skills and promotes them is valuable. This program seems to realistically challenge girls with results. Bravo!

  2. I got my daughters enrolled in coding when she was 8 yrs, she is now10 and loving it. I appreciate so much the opportunity you share with this program, we live in Atlanta your org is based in NYC, how can we stay in touch with your program so that my daughter can join your summer program and develop. # wishyouwereinAtlanta.????

  3. I greatly agree what a great story, helping others find greatness in themselves. Again a great story of encouragement for our teens and young adults.

  4. Women need to earn a substantial income and this gives them inspiration toward an engineering degree which in turn gives their future children a better life. In a world where so many men are absent from the family women must rise to the occasion and stand strong. Earning a “man’s wage” is just not an option but a requirement in this day and age! Women are born leaders! All of us!

  5. This is just awesome. I have been so distraught with the way women are treated and abused by the system that it boils my blood. I’m so happy that this exists. As a father of 2 boys and 2 girls. My 21 year old daughter is pursuing her engineering degree and loves coding. Thank you for providing a way for women to excel on their own. I wish women had been running this country from the beginning, if so we would not be in this mess.

  6. I think this program is awesome and wish there were more like it. Women are heavily underepresented in the CS field, and this program will do a lot to fill the gap. By the way, this is strictly a “brainwash” problem. I have taught classes (not in the US) where the majority of students were women.
    A Ph D in Computer Science and Professor for 37 years.

  7. Hello!! I will be 60 in 2019 and have taken care of everyone except myself; I live in Maryland – Prince George’s County. I’m interested In Learning to code. Should I try the community college or are there other places (maybe from corporations that are doing what you have done for the young girls) for the up in age – we want to learn too!

  8. We are located in In a very rural area of Florida. Our group have started the planning phase of a coding program for our girls mentoring group. Is it possible to assist us? We do have a scientist from Los Alamos Labs who will work with us. Thank you for such insight the needs of our girls and young women. Have a great year!!
    Angel Duke

  9. Excellent, excellent! I hope to purchase Rashna’s book as soon as it’s out. Wonderful message! Thank you for a positive article in these distressing times!!

  10. As a NOC technician I live my working life in a man’s world. I have to prove myself over and over but eventually the guys come around to know I can do the job just as good, if not better than the men around me. Brave, not perfect – is a great description of all the ladies in my field and it’s really great to see someone out there helping us send the message. YES WE CAN! Thanks for your inspiration!

  11. I disagree with doing away with “trying to be perfect “. While bravery’s good to learn i find that young girls & boys are NOT being taught proper hygiene i e they don’t shampoo their hair often enough or bathe often enough & they just stink. Yes we have been exposed to that from family members have u ever had to sit next to someone on a plane or restaurant who doesn’t keep themselves clean? It’s awful & inexcusable in this day & age. there is nothing wrong with perfectionism. It helped me be very successful in an age where it was hard to compete as a woman so please don’t discourage perfectionism. It also works

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