How CEO Reshma Saujani and her coding girls plan to outsmart Silicon Valley's toxic men


“We raise our girls to be perfect and we raise our boys to be brave. That toxic perfectionism is causing a lot of unhappiness amongst women, and it's causing this huge leadership gap that we're seeing,” the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani, told D. Watkins on “Salon Talks.”

Saujani’s new book “Brave Not Perfect” confronts the cultural advantages men are afforded throughout childhood and the unfair biases women face in the workplace with bottom-up solutions that are rooted in empowering the most important people in this conversation, women.

Saujani founded the tech nonprofit Girls Who Code in 2012, with the goal of closing the gender gap in STEM and teaching young women how to write code. Seven years later, Girls Who Code has trained over 185,000 girls—many of them black and Latina and half of them falling below the poverty line.

The girls at GWC have created innovative programs, like a Harriet Tubman video game to teach students about slavery and microchip technology that alerts police stations when guns are fired at a school. The organization has also produced engineering graduates and a new wave of women who are beginning to crack the gender bias in Silicon Valley.

It’s something Saujani isn’t shy about. “I wanted to to confront the Valley and say 'look at your privilege, look at your racism, look at your sexism.' Let's return back to our roots when we were just trying to create great code. They think they're Libertarians, right? They don't think that there's real bias, so we have started Girls Who Code proving it.”

Saujani also opened up about her bravest moment yet, running for Congress at age 33 in 2010. Saujani lost the Democratic primary in New York's 14th congressional district to incumbent Rep. Carolyn Maloney, but says it forced her to confront her own self-doubt.

“Ever since I lost that congressional race, I'm really real about who I am. I felt like I was reborn. The other way didn't get me anywhere, and I wasn't happy,” Saujani shared.

“You've got to be real and honest about who you are and things that you're facing because people are going through a lot of pain and suffering right now. I think I've learned a lot by being around so many girls.”

Watch the episode to learn more about Saujani’s next challenge with GWC: figuring out why her very qualified alumni aren’t landing the jobs they interview for in Silicon Valley. And why, she tells SalonTV with certainty, that she will be running for office again.


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