I’ve always been a math and science nerd. Ever since 1st grade, I had my heart set on becoming a doctor, scientist, or teacher. But after being discovered at my local mall over 10 years ago, my trajectory changed and at the age of 15, I started a full-time career in fashion.
People don’t always associate fashion with tech, but the intersection of these two industries is where I found my groove. Every day, I see technology become more important to both the business and creativity of fashion. I am fascinated by how code has transformed entire industries and powers so much of the technology that we rely on everyday. I wanted to understand more about how tools and apps were developed.
Enter my first coding class about three years ago. I merely wanted to satiate my curiosity to understand simply, what ‘code’ was. I had no idea how much I would love learning this secret language, or how it would inspire my commitment to making sure all girls can learn to code and be leaders in technology.
I was lucky to join a class where I learned the fundamentals of Ruby and other programming languages through hands-on labs. My classmates and I built and tested apps, and even programmed a drone to fly around the classroom. I was hooked.
I quickly came to understand that code is a superpower every young woman should be able to access. Understanding that code is the underlying (and invisible) framework of tech means that we do not have to be passive bystanders in our ever-changing digital world. Being able to write lines of code means that we too can architect and contribute to the innovation and evolution of technology. I also walked away from that first class with another lesson: There just aren’t enough girls in code and tech.
According to research by the Girl Scouts, while 74% of high school girls are interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), women only earn 18% of all undergraduate computer science degrees. The numbers are even worse for girls and women of color. Out in the working world, African American women make up just 3% of the tech workforce. Latinx women comprise only 1%. And when it’s time to go big and start your own company? A staggering 90% of investor money worldwide goes to startups founded by men.
As women, it’s our time to change this. After experiencing the power of code myself, I knew I had to do my part to help girls know they could pursue it, too.
I founded Kode With Klossy to empower girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech. In just three short years, we’ve grown from 21 scholarships in our first girls’ coding class to offering over 300 scholarships in the 15 free Kode With Klossy camps in 10 cities this summer. From SWIFT to Ruby to front-end design classes, girls from Detroit to New Orleans, Oakland to Austin, ages 13-18 will have the opportunity to learn to code and start realizing that with a focus in these STEM skills, can become the next Sheryl Sandberg, Melinda Gates, or Katherine Johnson.
Today marks the opening of the 2017 Kode With Klossy applications. This summer, we’ll welcome a new class of students to the program, a sisterhood of ambitious young women who know that knowledge is a superpower, and that by learning to code, they can become the kind of superheroes who change the world.
Every single one of these girls is incredible, like awesome Kode With Klossy alum and founder of Pretty Smart magazine Bronna. She went from knowing nothing about code to building a web app at camp. And like so many of the Kode With Klossy grads, she didn’t stop there. Bronna rallied her community in rural Maine to increase computer science education opportunities, convincing her school to offer a coding class and start a scholarship to help other girls learn to code.
What I’ve learned through Kode With Klossy is that Bronna’s drive is universal among these young women. If given the opportunity to engage their inner nerd and learn the power of code and tech, they don’t just open new doors; they blow them off the hinges. They are astonishing, they are driven, and they are ready — not just to get in the game, but to change it entirely. The community of young women I have seen come together with this shared passion and interest in using code to pair creativity with problem solving, has been beyond anything I have ever been part of. There is real power in bringing together like-minded women who want to BE the change they hope to see in the world. I am so proud of these young ladies ability to support, inspire and empower one another to work and rise together to transform these statistics and transform the status quo.