A North Star for the Next Generation of Women Technologists

Senior Software Engineer and Code with Her co-founder Kylie Taitano hosted a hands-on coding class for Intuit employees to prove the sky is the limit for women technologists.

Four women standing behind 'Coding for Kids' booth
Four women standing behind 'Coding for Kids' booth

By day, I work as a Senior Software Engineer on the Intuit TurboTax team. I spend the rest of my time as one of the co-founders of Code With Her, a San Diego-based 501(c)(3) non-profit. Code With Her’s mission is to close the gender, diversity, and socio-economic gaps in tech. It’s an issue that’s close to my heart. As an Indigenous Chamoru woman from the island of Guam, being in the tech industry transformed my life beyond my parents’ wildest dreams. 

In honor of International Women in Engineering Day, Tech Women @ Intuit invited Code With Her to teach a coding class to my fellow employees here at our San Diego campus. Tech Women @ Intuit is an initiative that empowers women technologists to advance their careers and inspire each other to innovate. 

For the workshop, the Code with Her team took a big swing and piloted our new program called “Coding Culture.” The idea is to identify ornaments, icons, and other objects that represent parts of history or traditional cultural celebrations. Workshop participants built out these ornaments using sustainable decorative materials, and made them come to life by integrating the object with a colorful LED circuit with various light effects and sequences powered by an Arduino microcontroller. 

The objectives for this workshop were simple–participants would be exposed to new historical, cultural, technical, and engineering knowledge, and leave these workshops with something tangible they can keep for years to come and share with family and friends.

The first in our “Constellation” series of workshops, Intuit employees and their guests learned how to code the Big Dipper, a formation of stars that are part of the Ursa Major constellation. The workshop began by teaching participants about how the Big Dipper is a cross-cultural constellation, having roots in Greek, Arabic, Asian, Indigenous American, and other cultural legends.

The participants lit up (pun intended), as they got their Big Dipper code to work.

But, the goal of holding these workshops at Intuit and beyond, is to make sure participants had fun. I saw smiles and excitement to share projects at home as each participant left the workshop. I’m grateful that Intuit actively works to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion both within and outside company walls. It’s not easy balancing my tech career and Code With Her.

To me, what makes it all worth it is knowing that we played a small part in creating an opportunity for everyone to explore the wonderful world of tech. 

Written by Kylie Taitano

Kylie is a Senior Software Engineer at Intuit.