There are many ways for a girl to Dream Big. Many paths towards the fulfillment of her incredible potential. Many small, smart steps on a journey fueled by her passion.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful initiative that’s dedicated to helping more girls find their way along one of those paths. It’s a group that we’ve chosen to support with a portion of every Handcrafted HoneyBee purchase, as part of our focus on helping organizations that empower young women.
Finding Purpose in the Face of Defeat
In 2010, Reshma Saujani ran in the Democratic primary against the incumbent for New York’s 14th Congressional District. She spoke about it in her inspiring TED Talk, Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection.
“In my mind, this was my way to make a difference, to disrupt the status quo,” recalled Saujani on the TED stage in March 2016. “The polls, however, told a very different story. My pollsters told me that I was crazy to run, that there was no way that I could win. On election day, the polls were right, and I only got 19 percent of the vote, and the same papers that said I was a rising political star now said I wasted 1.3 million dollars on 6,321 votes.”
It was a staggering defeat. But the fact that she had opened herself up to the possibility of failure changed the way that she saw everything.
She shared, “It was the first time in my entire life that I had done something that was truly brave, where I didn’t worry about being perfect.” And as she looked back on that campaign to see what lessons she could learn, something stuck out in her mind.
The computer labs in so many of the schools she visited during her campaign lacked female students.
Saujani came to learn a startling trend. While 2/3 of U.S. girls aged 6-11 have expressed interest in or are enrolled in computer science classes, that number drops dramatically in the tween & teen years. By the time they enter college, only 4% of women surveyed were enrolled in a computer science program.
Saujani started with a small pilot program in New York with only 20 girls. Their mission: to close the gender gap in technology.
Only three years later, Girls Who Code had grown to a nation-wide program with 10,000 alumnae in 42 states. “That’s the same number of girls who graduate each year with a degree in computer science,” said founder & CEO Reshma Saujani in an open letter on the Girls Who Code website.
Snapshot of the Girls Who Code homepage
Working Together to Improve Our Communities
Girls Who Code believes that they can grow more future female computer scientists, programmers & IT professionals by exposing girls to new experiences, giving them chances to apply their skills and creating opportunities for them to connect with each other.
“Too often girls don’t pursue computer science because they’ve never been exposed to it, or they don’t see the impact it can make on the world,” Saujani observed in an interview for Workforce Magazine.
Girls Who Code can help you to set up a free after-school program for 6th-12th grade girls. By identifying a problem in their community & working together on a project to solve it, girls learn computer science, develop a sense of teamwork, and grow their leadership skills. (To find out what it takes to start a club, visit girlswhocode.com/start-a-club.)
In addition, Girls Who Code offers free Summer Immersion Programs at top technology companies around the country. Girls learn how to code in a truly project-based learning environment, and get the chance to connect with female engineers already working in the industry. Applications for the 2017 summer program are open from January through March, so keep it on your radar!
Expanding the Pipeline
The impact of these programs is nothing short of astounding. 65% of the girls who participate in a Girls Who Code after-school club say that they are considering studying computer science as a result of the experience. And 90% of girls who participated in the summer immersion program are planning on studying computer science or a closely related field.
Even if all of those girls were thinking about a career in tech already, their experiences with Girls Who Code are helping to strengthen that resolve, to develop key skills, and to gain confidence in themselves. Working in a team environment and focusing on how they can improve their own communities, girls are making connections with each other and with a larger world.
At Handcrafted HoneyBee, we are on a mission to inspire girls to Dream Big for their lives. To make small, intentional steps toward that dream. To build smart skills along that journey.
Girls Who Code is making a difference for girls with Big Dreams in tech. That’s why, starting on Good Karma Friday (Nov 25) a portion of every Handcrafted HoneyBee purchase you make will be donated to support them.
It’s our way to help lift up an organization that is doing so much to lift up the same girls we serve with our company.
In Reshma Saujani’s own words, “What I found is that, by teaching them to code, I had socialized them to be brave. It requires perseverance. It requires imperfection.”
Brave girls. Determined girls. Imperfect girls. That’s a cause we want to get behind.
Girls Who Code is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. If you'd like to make a personal tax deductible contribution to them, visit their donation page.
Also, 5% of the value of your purchase will be donated to Girls Who Code when you shop with us on Nov 25, 2016 (Black Friday) during our Good Karma Event!