MARGARET FRANK: Welcome to the 2015 lecture of the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service. I'm Margaret Frank, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the College of Human Ecology. I want to go ahead and thank the staff and students who made tonight's event possible. And we are especially pleased tonight to have Ken, Jill, and Kiva Iscol with us tonight. Please stand.
Join me in welcoming them and thanking them for their support in this event. Jill and Ken established the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service 15 years ago in order to inspire students to become ambassadors of social change. In that spirit, this prestigious program not only funds this lecture but, since 2007, the program has supported over 116 students in public service internships in communities around the world. This past summer, 16 of our students in communities from North Brooklyn, New York to Tanzania and from Ithica to India, where they had the unique experience to see and engage first-hand in learning about some of the world's greatest challenges in health, education, and socioeconomic justice. Several of those students are with us tonight, as well.
Jill and Ken have been tremendous supporters to several university programs. Since 2001, the College of Human Ecology has been very pleased to be the home of the Iscol program. We see this program as central to the college's mission of developing leaders who address significant societal issues. The program serves the entire university. So the College of Human Ecology has been delighted to collaborate with Cornell's urban semester program, the public service center, and the global health program. These are invaluable collaborators in identifying the students who can participate in these summer programs.
For example, the global and public health sciences major and global health minor now enroll more than 90 students each year. The rigorous academic curriculum is augmented with summer programs in Tanzania, the Dominican Republic, India, and Zambia. Now, after four years of support from the Iscol program and our faculty members, we hope to develop a portfolio of sustainable partnerships to accommodate up to 200 students per year in the new major. We're especially grateful to the Iscol's for sharing our ambitions and visions for engaged learning and leadership.
At this time, I'd like to introduce John Eckenrode, who will introduce tonight's program. Dr. Eckenrode is a professor of human development and associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. He is a co-founder of this program with JIll Iscol. The college is grateful to John for his continuing efforts in making this program so successful. It's my pleasure to introduce John Eckenrode. John?
Well, thank you, Margaret, and welcome, everyone. It's great to see you here tonight. I'm very honored to introduce our speaker tonight. There's many people to thank, in addition to what Margaret said, that made today possible, not just tonight. We've kept Reshma very busy today meeting with groups of students.
First of all, I want to thank Patty Thayer, who is my assistant and sort of right-hand person who's worked over the years with this program, has made a lot of the on-the-ground things work. So thank you, Patty, who's sitting in the back here.
This year, we were very fortunate to have a terrific undergraduate working with us who did a lot of work with us reaching out to the campus community, Jenelle Bonner. Jenelle, where are you at? [APPLAUSE] There she is.
For today's events, I also wanted to recognize and thank the leadership and membership of several student organizations that are directly connected to the issues related to tonight's talk by our guest. First of all, Women in Computing at Cornell. Any members of Women in Computing at Cornell? Can you raise your hand?
Just raise your hand if you're part of this organization-- Society for Women Engineers? Any women engineers here?
The Association of Computer Science Undergraduates? Do we have a few folks from that group? Maybe? And a couple weeks ago, there was an enthusiastic event on campus called the Coding Bootcamp. Do we have any of the Coding Bootcamp participants or mentors here tonight? Yep.
And how about Code for Kids? This is a sort of new, emerging organization on campus who works with young kids, including elementary school kids. Any Code for Kids folks here tonight? Well, I just want to let you know that organization exists, and they're obviously looking for new members.
Now, of course, a special thanks go out to Ken and Jill and the Iscol family for endowing the program and for their guidance and participation over the years. It's been a thrill for me to work with this family. They're tremendous benefactors to the university, but also to helping solve many of societal problems and highlighting some of the wonderful people that are engaged in social change efforts. So it's a treat to have them here tonight.
Now, just a few words about our guest, our speaker, Reshma Saujani. John I could say a lot more, but I want to give her the stage as soon as possible. She's just an-- as I'm learning today, as I've seen Reshma in various venues, she's just an extraordinary person who, like a growing number of young social entrepreneurs, are using their intelligence and passion and commitment to help address major societal problems-- in her case, the gender inequities we still see in STEM professions, especially in computer science.
Reshma is a founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national not-for-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs in the future. In her new book, Women Who Don't Wait in Line, which I hope you all, Reshma advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting one's own course personally and professionally. She's a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School.
After years of working as an attorney and supporting the Democratic Party as an activist and fundraiser, Reshma became the first Indian American woman in the country to run for Congress, quite an accomplishment in and of itself. Although she did not win that seat, Reshma stayed true to her passion for public service, becoming deputy public advocate for New York City. And now she devotes her full time and considerable energies to Girls Who Code and has led this team, an impressive team of people, on a scale-up that has now the program reaching well beyond its original New York City roots.
We're very excited to hear more about Reshma's vision and Code for Girls. So ladies and gentlemen, would you please join me in welcoming Reshma to Cornell.
I want to thank John and Patty for taking such good care of me. I have to start by thanking the Iscol family. It's such a joy to watch and to hear from all the young students and to see how much commitment and work and time that they have spent in really uplifting all of you. And they've done that for me.
I met Jill and Ken probably when I was, like, all about 23 years old. And from whatever campaign I was running or organization I was starting, Jill and Ken and Kiva and Zach have been there. In fact, Jill's son, Zach, was their first donor to every single one of my campaigns.
So you're just amazing people-- amazing, amazing, amazing people who truly believe in social change and could be doing so much with your lives, but you're investing in all of us. And hopefully, you see me as the product of that investment in everything that we're about to talk to today because I certainly do. I always say, in life you've got to figure out who your believers are. And they believe in me. And I'm grateful for that.
I want to thank John for my bio. I think when you hear about my work, you're like, wow,. She's done a lot. And in all of those accomplishments, there's been a lot of failure. And that's what I want to talk a little bit about today.
So first and foremost, I always say that I am the daughter of refugees. My parents came to this country in 1973. They were literally watching television one day when the dictator Idi Amin came on and said, you have 90 days to leave the country. My mother was eight months pregnant with my sister. And they were terrified.
So they applied to country after country, got rejection after rejection. And then finally, they got a letter saying congratulations. You have been accepted to the United States of America. And wearing shorts and t-shirts, they boarded a 747 to Chicago in the dead of winter because they had never seen snow before.
And they built a life for themselves. And even though my family-- both my parents were trained engineers, my mother sold cosmetics, my father worked as a machinist. In fact, my dad changed his name to Mike Saujani just so he could get a job.
But it was in their life of struggle and resilience that I fell in love with this country and knew from a very young age that I wanted to dedicate my life to serving it. I was about 13 years old when I decided I wanted to go to law school. I watched Kelly McGillis in The Accused. I know the old people in this room know who I'm talking about. The rest of you have no idea.
But she was this amazing, amazing, amazing lawyer. And I looked at her, and I said, I want to be just like you. And I made my father drive me to the library to find out what the number one law school was because I was just as ambitious then as I am now. And it was Yale Law School. And I remember we printed it out, and I circled it with my Hello Kitty marker, taped it on my refrigerator.
And every day, I would look at that US News & World Report as a guidepost of where I wanted to go. I applied to Yale Law School once, got rejected; twice, got rejected; and the third time just got a train, knocked on the dean's door clutching that US News & World Report and said, you have to let me in. So instead of calling security, he heard my case. And a year after, I went to Georgetown for law school, and then I transferred to Yale.
I graduated law school $300,000 in student loan debt. And I thought that I would move to New York, get a job at a fancy law firm, and I'd serve. And I remember when I got my first check from Davis Polk, my parents made a photocopy of it framed it because they had never seen that much money before.
And flash forward lots of years from the time that I graduated law school. It was 2008, and I was watching my mentor and someone who I admire, Hillary Clinton, give this concession speech. And she had this line. I remember watching her in Washington, DC. And she had this line where she said, you know, just because I failed doesn't mean you shouldn't try, too. And I swore that she was talking to me.
Because you see, at this point I was 33 years old. And I was working in a financial services firm. And I was coming home every day in the fetal position. I hated my job. And I felt a very clear sense of what I was meant to be doing. But I wasn't doing it.
So I remember I walked into my boss's office, and I quit. And I decided right then and there to run for United States Congress against an 18-year incumbent in a Democratic primary because I thought that that was a great idea.
I had no chance of winning, but I did not know that then. I remember the only thing my friends I knew how to do was build a website. And we built one. In the first week, I raised $50,000 from Indian aunties that were just so happy that a woman was finally running. And my whole life for those 10 months was like jumping off a cliff. My life was run by 22-year-olds. My first television interview was on Chris Matthews.
But I swore that I was going to win. And I remember on election day, I was sitting next to my father, holding his hand. And we were in this beautiful hotel room at my victory party that never happened, just watching the television screen not move past 19%.
And there was this young girl, Rebecca, who was with me every day from the beginning of the campaign. And she just staring at me because I knew I had lost, and I wanted to cry so bad. But I knew she would remember how I reacted in that moment for the rest of her life. So I cried the next day.
So I lost my congressional campaign. I was broke again because I had put my savings into that race. I was humiliated. I pissed off everybody in the democratic establishment. And I didn't know what I was going to do with my life. And the thing that I kept thinking about at that moment was all the young girls that I had let down.
Because you see, when you run for office, you visit a lot of schools and you meet a lot of parents. It was 2010, and tech was starting to be this huge industry in New York City. And so as I would go from school to school to school, I would see 100 boys that were clamoring to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. But I didn't see any girls.
And this question of where are the girls, which then became an obsession, is what led me to start Girls Who Code. So people always say to me, why does it matter? Like, why do we care about gender parity in tech?
Well, one, it matters because of jobs. So when the economic crisis hit in 2008, we lost about 8 million manufacturing jobs. And since the recovery, the number of jobs in manufacturing and construction, typically high-paying jobs, have shrunk while lower-wage work has grown. And today, we have about five million open jobs, largest number since 2011. When you guys graduate, it's actually going to be a good time to look for a job if you have the right skills.
So 15% of those open jobs, they're in tech. And 2/3 of those tech jobs, they're not at Google, and they're not at Twitter. They're actually in non-traditional tech industries like health care and financial services. And these jobs are not just in New York City and San Francisco. About 15% of the open jobs in Salt Lake City are in tech. About 19% of the open jobs in Delaware are in technology.
And if you talk to any executive at any company, they'll tell you that they cannot find enough engineers to hire. Five years from now, there's going to be 1.4 million jobs that are open in the computing related fields. And at the current rate, 29% of our graduates will fill those jobs. 3% of that 1.4 million? They're going to be filled by women.
The fastest growing job in this field is a computer software engineer. To be wanted often requires a computer science degree. And we'll talk more about that later. And after computer science comes engineering.
So I told the story about my parents and Uganda. So when I was growing up, my father would always say to me, you have three choices, Reshma. You can be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. You guys know what I'm talking about? Right? Because I was responsible-- right? How many people, same parents as mine? Yep.
Because I was responsible for helping the family. That was living the American dream. We're not having that conversation with our kids today. Universities are still giving out twice as many business and social science undergraduate degrees than degrees in engineering and computer science. In 2008, 4% of all US bachelor's degrees were in engineering compared to 31% in China and 51% in Japan.
And the most shocking part of this is gender. In 2009, there's going to be 2.5 million college-educated women with STEM degrees compared to 6.7 million men. So what I always say, that from a labor growth perspective, when we talk about STEM, it's not about the S and the M. It's really about the T and the E.
So I want you think about this-- in 1984, about 37% of computer science graduates were women. So we almost had parity. If you were to actually pull up a picture of Steve Jobs's original Apple team, there was almost half women. If you pull up a picture of Zuckerberg's or Dorsey's or [INAUDIBLE] tech team today, there's no women. Less than 18% of computer science graduates are women today.
So at a time when we've become more and more reliant on technology, we are pushing women out. There's no other industry-- I'm talking about construction, manufacturing-- where you've seen the same type of decline in women. And this is a huge problem because 71% of all STEM jobs that we talk about, they're in computer science.
So why does it matter? Look, I'm a feminist with a capital F. And I love women. And I love gender parity. But when it comes to tech, I'm not interested in gender parity for the sake of gender parity. I believe it's important as an American because I believe that this is the most important economic issue of our time. Why?
First of all, innovation-- there's no question that technology spurs innovation. The digital age that we are living in has transformed our world and our workforce. And if the participation of women remains stagnant, women-- who make up half of this university, half of the labor force, almost half of our bread winners-- if they are being left out of innovation, it is a problem. And to stay at the forefront, if America is going to continue to lead globally, we've got to make sure that we're educating our women in this field.
Secondly, it matters because of pay equity. As women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners, the lack of women in these jobs-- future jobs-- where you can actually make double that of any private sector job, the lack of women in these jobs is a cause for concern. Women in STEM jobs earns 33% more than women in non-STEM jobs.
Oftentimes, when women are pursuing a job in STEM, they're going into health and life sciences, which tend to paid less than engineering and computer science. There's no pay gap for computer science and engineers. There's no pay gap for computer science engineers.
Third, the reason why I care about this issue is I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in a world that's run by men. I just don't. And I say this as a mother of a son. I am sick and tired of opening up any top 100, top 500, top 50 list, and all I see, one through ten, are male technologists who are building companies where the consumer base is 85% female.
Think about your favorite app-- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Let's talk about Twitter. Twitter, created by Ev Williams, Jack Dorsey, until recently run by Dick Costolo, led by an all-male engineering team. Every single technology company in America has exactly the same story, and it doesn't make sense.
If we are going to elevate female leadership and truly make a difference and crash through the ceiling, we have to crash through it before it's even created. So you might be saying, you know, Reshma, I agree. I'm with you. But I have a friend or I have a sister. And she's not interested. She's not interested in pursuing a computer science or engineering degree.
And my response is, they are. But for too long, decade after decade after decade, we have pushed girls out. We have told them that you're not smart enough. You're not good enough. And they're listening.
I recently-- I want to read to you this. I don't know if you can see it. So this is a book that Barbie put out. And the title of the book is I Can Be a Computer Science Engineer. So Mattel created this book with the intention of inspiring women to go into computer science.
Page three of the book. Barbie's friend-- "Your robot puppy is so sweet, Barbie." And it says-- sorry that the slide's a little screwed up. And then Barbie basically says to her friend, "I'm only creating the design ideas, Skipper. I'll need Stephen and Brian's help to turn it into a real game."
So I read this. And I was like, oh, must've come out in, like, the 1970s, maybe the '80s, maybe the '90s. No. This book came out in 2014. You walk into a Forever 21, and I can buy a t-shirt that says "I'm allergic to algebra." I turn on the television, and all I see, when it comes to women in tech in Silicon Valley, is B-list models.
We are constantly showing our girls that this is not for you, that you cannot do this, that you need a boy to help you if you're really going to be a technologist. I recently spoke to a group of girls ages 6 to 16 at a girl's school in Rhode Island, audience just like this. And I said to them, how many of you have ever said, I hate math? Every hand was raised.
How many of you ever said, I hate to read? I hate to write? No hands. Why is it OK that we allow our girls to say that they hate math when we would never allow them to say that about reading and writing? We have allowed our girls to think that it's OK to not go into the math and sciences even when they're passionate or interested.
57% of girls say that if they pursue a STEM career, they're going to have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously. We at Girls Who Code are working to change this. So I started Girls Who Code in 2012. And we started with 20 girls.
And basically, in 2011, when I decided that I wanted to do something on this issue, I spent about a year and a half researching it. Is there another organization in this space? What are they doing? If I'm going to solve the problem, what does it have to look like? Is it an after-school program? Is it an in-school program? Is it a summer program? How many girls?
I remember I thought of Girls Who Code, right? Because that's an obvious name if you want to teach girls to code. Got on godaddy.com. It was available. Bought it with my credit card. Literally bootstrapped the entire thing. I had no idea what I was building. I didn't intend to build a movement.
I remember on the day we launched, we were desperately trying to get someone to write a story and nobody would. And Twitter just put it on its blog. And I remember at 5 o'clock, I look at my phone. And I basically start screaming because Sheryl Sandberg had sent me an email being like, I don't know who you are, but what you're doing is really cool, and how can I help you? And I was like, oh, my God! How'd you get my email?
I was going to bed that night. And my husband is like, how can you sleep ? We're trending in Korea! It was just crazy. Right? This idea was just-- we hadn't even launched yet. And people were like, this has to happen. You have to do this. We have to build this.
So basically, in the past couple years, we've grown like crazy. And these numbers are actually old now. But now, by the end of this year, we will essentially teach 10,000 girls in 40 states. Last year, we taught over 3,000 in 24 states. So we're growing like crazy. And our model is basically twofold.
So we host what we call our summer immersion program. So we essentially build classrooms in technology companies. So we'll take rising juniors and seniors in high school, 20 of them. And for seven weeks, we'll teach them how to code in a classroom that's in a tech company or a university. So Facebook, Pixar, Google-- all these major technology companies have Girls Who Code programs at them.
And then the second thing we do is we launch Girls Who Code clubs in after-school programs, in churches, in community centers, in universities-- Cornell. Where's my girls? Right there. We host a Girls Who Code club. All the young women who are teaching or mentoring at our Cornell club, please raise your hand. And please can we give them a round of applause?
This is a sisterhood. More on that later. But you're essentially teaching middle school and high school girls from the community that don't have access to computer science education. And you bring them on site and teach them. I have girls that are learning in Indian reservations, in Section 8 housing, in homeless shelters, from Seattle to Miami, learning how to computer program.
And it's powerful. We set out to basically teach a million girls how to computer program. And year after year after year, thousands and thousands and thousands of girls are raising their hand and saying, teach me. We want to learn. Our summer immersion program last had 1,200 spots. We had 7,000 girls apply. It kills me that we have to turn them away.
Our girls are amazing. In our first program, we had a young girl, Cora. And she was about five years old when her daddy got diagnosed with cancer. And she decided at that moment, I'm going to be a doctor because I want to save my father's life. And it wasn't until Girls Who Code that she understood the connection between computer science and medicine. And she built an algorithm to help detect whether a cancer is benign or malignant. 16 years old.
Helen, whose beautiful face is right here-- her family escaped the Soviet Union. She was hungry, so she decided that she wanted to use technology to solve world hunger. She's at Brown right now studying to be a computer science engineer.
Ming, one of our girls-- her cousin was an orphan from Cambodia. So she decided that she was going to create, after Girls Who Code, an organization called Code Up. So every summer, she goes to Cambodia and teachers orphans how to code.
Jasmine-- Mexican American, lives in Oakland. Gets on a bus every day, a bus and a train, to go from her home to Facebook to learn how to computer program. Her mother works at Burger King. Three siblings. Single mom. She is basically working right now to build an app to help learn the SAT because she couldn't afford a high-priced tutor. And she doesn't want other young girls in her community to opt out of college because they can't afford prep classes.
These girls are amazing. In story after story after story, when I go from any of our programs, it matters because they want to build things that are going to make their community and their world just a little bit better. And they see the connection to technology.
And the most amazing thing for me is it's working. I had a baby eight months ago. And three months in, when you have-- the moms in the room can appreciate this-- when you're not sleeping. You're watching infomercials. And that becomes your life. Right? And you're thinking about, oh, my God. How did I get here? And you tend to look at your phone at that moment. And I got our alumni data in. And 90% of our alumni are now majoring or minoring in computer science, and 77% wanted to do something else before.
So think about that. They walked in saying, I want to be Beyonce. I want to be Hillary Clinton. I want to be a dancer. I want to be a vet. And they learn this coding thing, and like, this is awesome. This is what I want to do.
So it teaches us that you can change the world, and you can change it quickly. We can have gender parity in our lifetime. That Vanity Fair list that we talked about can look very different in just a decade if we continue our commitment to teaching girls how to computer program.
The reason why it matters to me is Tampon Run. Yep, Tampon Run. Best game ever. Two of our girls, Sophie and Andie, built a game called Tampon Run. Tamponrun.com. You can play it right now. A little girl runs down the street. She grabs a tampon box, gets 500 points. It's awesome and addictive.
Sophie any Andie in the last two weeks of our program get to build whatever they want. So they literally walked up to their male teacher, and they said, we want to build a game that's going to conquer the menstruation taboo. So many girls across the world drop out when they start menstruating. Let's educate people about that.
So they built a game to do that. Let's be real. No boy was going to create Tampon Run. No boy is sitting there thinking, ah, that menstruation tabboo-- what can I do to fight that? Let me build a game. Wasn't going to happen. It's never going to happen.
This is why it's so important. Because when you have girls like Sophie any Andie that are sitting around these tables making decisions, coming up with solutions, we will solve different problems. And so we've got to make sure that we get them access to coding education.
People always say to me, why does Girls Who Code work? It works for a couple reasons. One, it works because of the sisterhood. I really think that Girls Who Code can basically claim fame to creating the girl squad before Taylor Swift did.
When you come to Girls Who Code, you just love being a girl. Like, being a girl is just cool. You're just there with your homeys building really awesome stuff. It's not about not liking boys. It's just about loving your girls. And there's something really powerful about learning something that society thinks is so hard in the comfort of girls. The fact that you feel like you can fail, you can ask questions, there's not going to be that annoying guy saying he knows the answer when he doesn't. Like, you can do something together.
And building that sense of sisterhood and community is so important. One of the things that I'm super psyched about is-- and I don't know if people know this or not. But you know, if you look at the dropout rate for men and women in computer science, it's actually the same. Women are dropping out at a rate of about 38%, and men are dropping out at a rate of 36%. I always thought it was higher for women.
But this tells us-- and when I go across the country, I was just in Stanford a couple days ago. Now I'm here at Cornell. And I've asked the same question. And when I ask girls, what makes you drop out? It is that annoying dude. Right? Or that feeling that you're the only girl there and no one can relate to you. And everybody's just killing it, and your are suffering.
To have a community of women and young women to talk to, to learn with, is really important. And I believe that not only will Girls Who Code put more women into the pipeline, we can also reduce the dropout rate. And that's something I want to work with universities here at Cornell to talk about.
The second thing is we give girls exposure. I always think about, for me, even though my father was an engineer, I literally thought he built choo-choo trains. I had no idea what he did. He never brought me to work. My mother never brought me to work.
And so embedding girls in tech companies and going to Google and seeing the free food and like-- it's fun. And knowing-- you can't aspire to be a career when you don't know what that career is or what you actually do. And so having these classrooms in technology companies has been key.
The third really important thing that we do is role models. You know, I remember-- every year Sheryl meets with our girls. And it's been awesome to watch because it's gone from 20 girls to like, hi, we're rolling with 10,000 girls this year. And every year, she sets aside time to meet with our girls.
And I remember the first year, we were all sitting in this conference room. And the whole walls were just big windows. And Sheryl walks out in her tight leather pants. And the girls are screaming like she's Beyonce. They think she's Beyonce. They look up to her. She is someone who they can aspire to be like.
And having role models is really important. You cannot be what you cannot see. You just can't. So if we don't show girls what's possible, and they see women who look like them, we're never going to change this.
And the last thing I think is really important-- I touched it in the beginning-- is it's really important to teach failure. Look, ladies, if I leave you with one thing on this trip, it's that I teach you to fail and to aspire to fail. If you have not failed, you haven't done anything yet. Literally.
It's so important to build a thick skin. Life is tough. You think this is rough? It gets rougher. And if you can't pick up and dust yourself off and keep moving, you won't be able to get there. And I'm a living proof of that.
There have been so many moments in the past four years where people counted me out. I remember the comment section on some articles that are written by me. My father had to literally get a computer and subscribe to the internet. And he'd be like, this is Reshma's daddy. Don't say that. And I'm like, oh, my God. You're not supposed to respond. Literally.
There were never-- there were so many moment where I didn't know where my life was going to turn and what I was going to do. And now I am convening conversations with some of the most important people in the world. And it's because I was resilient, and I didn't give up.
So it's really important to remember that you just don't know where the journey is going to take you. But if you believe something to the core, then you keep fighting for it. People always say, how can we participate in this movement? The first thing that we have to do is we've got to change pop culture.
You know, in the 1970s, 10% of doctors and lawyers were women. 10%, not that long ago. And now that number is above 50%. Why? Grey's Anatomy, LA Law, Ally McBeal. We constantly saw these fabulous, hot, smart women. And little girls like me said, me too. I want to be you. Who do our girls see?
Since the '80s, when we had this [INAUDIBLE], it was Revenge of the Nerds, Weird Science, now Silicon Valley-- this brogrammer dude with a hoodie on, drinking Red Bull in a basement somewhere who smells. And no girl wants to be him.
No one. And we invent, even, this idea of a hackathon. Like, who says you have to stay up all night? Like, what is that? We've invented these images and these systems for men. And I-- not to be a conspiracy theorist. But it feels like they're intentional to push girls out. And we have to reclaim them.
Deborah and I, who's here, who's our VP of marketing, we spend a lot of time meeting with Hollywood producers, meeting with folks, saying, all right, Nickelodeon. What are you going to do? Disney, what are you going to do? I feel like I can kind of sort of take credit for Silicon Valley adding a woman engineer, finally, to their show because of this slide that I've been showing for the past two years. You have to shame them. You have to.
And we as consumers need to be very clear with the products that we buy, that this is unacceptable. We will not allow the young women of America to be left out on innovation. And we can do something about it.
The second most important thing that needs to happen is policy. The United States is far behind every other nation. One of the things, Jill, I think we should do with a bunch of women that Jill works with with Vital Voices is we could actually benefit from putting a study mission of women together to go to other countries and learn what they're doing right. Mexico has the largest number of female computer science graduates. England just made it mandatory to learn code. Nigeria, India, China, Japan, Cuba produce more female graduates, more female engineers than this country does.
The United States is massively far behind. 25 states don't allow computer science to count as a math or science requirement. A lot of people in this room so far off from high school-- you didn't have a lot of time, right? Didn't have a lot of time to take electives. You certainly weren't taken something that wasn't counting as a requirement. Things have to change. And we have to make sure that we're investing in computer science education.
I really believe that Girls Who Code is on its way to world domination. That's my goal. Really simple. World domination.
And we just simply have to infiltrate everywhere. We have to infiltrate the computer science classrooms here in this school. We have to infiltrate every single technology company. We have to infiltrate the White House. We have to just take over.
And when we do, I promise you the world will be a better place because you will possibly be building adult games on the menstruation taboo and other things. But we will be using technology to solve things, to find answers to problems. Because as women, we just-- we think about the world that way.
I want to just leave you with one video. Let's see if it actually plays.
Nine, 10, 11.
Sammy, sweetie, don't get your dress dirty.
Sam, honey, you don't want to mess with that. Let's put him down.
Samantha, this project has gotten out of control.
Whoa, hey! Careful with that! Why don't you hand that to your brother?
Our words can have a huge impact. Isn't it time we told her she's pretty brilliant, too? Encourage her love of science and technology and inspire her to change the world.
RESHMA SAUJANI: Questions? Yep?
RESHMA SAUJANI: Well, I think there's a lot of really great studies that are out where-- you've even had, I think, the CEO of Salesforce who has recently just-- he himself has gone through the payroll and looked at a performance review for person A and person B and has said, essentially, even in his company it's about gender. So there's a lot of data and information out there, that it's not about performance. That there is some inherent unconscious or conscious bias that we have.
Look, I think the other thing is-- and I know I do this-- if I were to ask a group, who in this room cares about making money? Raise your hand. OK. I like you guys. Oftentimes, though, when I ask this question to women, they don't raise their hands. Right? It's like we've taught women to have this really funny relationship with money, where they're almost embarrassed to want to make money.
And this is played out in the topic that I talked about today because since 2011, you've see this massive spike of men enrolling in computer science classes because they want to be Mark Zuckerberg and make a billion bucks. But it hadn't had a similar effect on young women.
And so because we've had this really funny relationship with money and taught to have this funny relationship with money, we're horrible negotiators. We don't ask for raises. Or when we ask for a raise, we'll continue talking and, like, undercut ourselves. You guys know what I'm talking about? I've done that. Right?
And it leads to, oftentimes, pay the gender disparity in pay. So we have to teach ourselves how-- I always tell women, it's just, ask for the raise and then close your mouth. Like this. Literally. And don't speak. Because we have a tendency to not like the quiet and then start saying, oh, well, actually, you know, I'm fine. You don't have to give me that. Maybe give me half of that.
And we got to teach our girls at a very young age to love money. It's your friend. It gives you freedom, economic freedom. That's a good thing.
AUDIENCE: It's a really great [INAUDIBLE]. I'm wondering what advice do you have for women who are no longer girls and who used to be girls who hated math but secretly are really interested in technology. What do you suggest that those women do now?
RESHMA SAUJANI: Learn how to code. it's not to late. Jill's learning how to code. She is. We're gonna make sure that happens. Literally. Hillary Clinton is gonna learn how to code. We talked about it. It's never too late. It's not. It's never too late. And there's getting more classes out there.
Look, I think it's hard-- like, it's hard to do Code Academy. It was hard for me to do Code Academy. You kind of want to go to a class. You need a teacher. So there are starting to be more classes. I would encourage the girls here at Girls Who Code to maybe do one for your peers. You know?
I think there was a great-- there was a coding workshop that just happened a few weeks ago, right? That was hugely successful. We need to have more initiatives like that. I would encourage Cornell to think about having a pass/fail class for folks that want to take computer science without having the pressure of grades. So there's not an age to it, you know? Learn how to code. And email me when you do.
RESHMA SAUJANI: Well, it's not even the men. It's really just the women in this room that are computer scientists. Like, what am I doing, like, building a movement on a topic that I technically know nothing about? Right? Four years ago.
So it's interesting. I mean, I think one, it's like it shows kind of my own audacity. Because I think a lot of-- maybe the Reshma pre losing my congressional race would have been too afraid to do something like that for fear that someone would ask me to write some complicated line of code or something and then call me a fraud.
But I've always been very authentic about it, too, and honest about it. I don't come to this solution by saying, I was in computer science. I was discriminated against in my class. These things happened to me.
I came at it from a different view. We also very much celebrate-- we have thousands of teachers. My head of curriculum, Emily Reid, is amazing. So we make sure that we have the voices of people that are in the field, as well. And I think that people appreciate that-- you know, I'm shameless. I'm a hustler. The thing that I bring to the table is I will shake you down and make you participate and take your resources and your capital and your conference room.
And in some ways, being a little bit emotionally detached from the subject because I didn't go through it, maybe that helped. You know what was also so amazing? And this has come up a couple times today, which has really made me think about it-- is the women in the movement have never made me feel bad. I've never been attacked. I've never been criticized. You know what I mean? I've always been welcomed for trying to do something about this. And I think that that's also what's just so amazing.
On the topic of men, I've met and had lots of different men in this field in my life. So let's talk about the men I love. Jack Dorsey is become a good friend of mine. Every time I run for office, he throws me a fundraiser. And this is a man who does not like press, does not like to actually put him out there. He's always believed in me. Like I say, we're often failing at something at the same time, so we commiserate together.
But I'll ask him for anything. He literally hands me his credit card every year. He will host dinners for me. He will chair a campaign. He is doing something special for us soon that I'm not allowed to say, but I guess, I don't know. OK.
But he never says no to me, ever, because he authentically cares about this issue. I think for him, he feels like, man, I want to hire as many talented women as I possibly can. And I think that he wants to do whatever he can to find a solution to this. And more often than not, I have found that with the men in this field.
So I think almost every single one of the CEOs that have come to our classroom, from Satya Nadella to John Chambers to Jack Dorsey to Dick Costolo to-- you know, Melinda Gates's daughter is running a club. Right?
So it's kind of crazy that every single one of them have come and said, what's going on and have invested. We've never had a company not re-up. In fact, when companies do one program, they end up doing five more. So I think people really see this as their higher retention pipeline.
Now, that being said, Silicon Valley's a weird place. It's a weird place. There's not a lot of diversity. It's a lot of men who may not be comfortable with women, who may have been rejected by people in this room-- not exactly you, but people like you. And so they're just not comfortable. They've told me before, hey, Reshma, when we did a Girls Who Code club, it was the first time we've ever interacted with women.
So it's interesting because at the same time, you feel like it's kind of this libertarian meritocracy. People tend to hire people they know and They're comfortable with. And so you have to break through that. My biggest fear is that I train all these girls, I put them in the pipeline, and then they don't get hired.
So that's something I am-- and we are very cognizant of the power of our brand. So I didn't like GoDaddy's commercials. I don't work with them. I didn't like the CEO of Snapchat's texts. I said no.
So we often call people out on behavior that we don't agree with support or want our girls around. And we don't work with them. We very much pick and choose who our partners are. And we're fortunate to be in that position where we can do that. And we will always do that, even if we are suddenly not in the position to do that because I'm sending my girls into something. And so I need to feel-- I don't think-- is Melody here? Melody's not here? No.
One of the-- we had an interesting situation with a partner this past summer where two of our girls got into a relationship. And they were really nasty about it. And I said, we're not working with you ever again.
We are a sisterhood. And we love and accept all of our girls. And so these are our values, and these are our principles, and this is who we are. And that's who we will work with-- people who accept our values and who exemplify them.
Oh, we reach a lot of young black women. Probably 70% of our students are of color. So probably-- well, I think, like, 25% Latino, 25% African American, 25% Asian American, 25% white. What's powerful that happens-- and 50% percent of our girls are from free and reduced lunch schools. So about half of our girls are probably as-- families are under the poverty line.
So one of the major reasons why I do this is I care about poverty alleviation. I have never-- and I really believe that technology can be the great equalizer. People are so far behind.
It was just really powerful. I was sharing this with the girls. I literally had a girl last year, [INAUDIBLE], who would leave a homeless shelter in New York City, in Harlem, go to Barry Diller's office at IAC on the west side and learn how to code. And she'd be sitting next to a girl who was Upper East Side [INAUDIBLE]. They were both so disadvantaged when it came to coding education that at the end of the seven weeks, they were at the exact same place. Nowhere in my life have I been able to see that kind.
We have several girls that leave homeless shelters, and their parents are literally waiting with them there. And they're learning how to code. And they're now-- I mean, one of my girls, it's like, they're getting scholarships. They're leaving our programs, getting fully paid internships at technology companies, then getting full rides to pay for school.
And it's almost like I want to teach as many girls before anybody sees what's going on because it's amazing. And people don't like to give up power. They don't like to give up their spots. Right? And for as long as I live, Girls Who Code will always be that because in New York City, we have one of the most segregated school systems in America-- in New York City.
So when I go look at any one of my-- I'm literally like an inspector. I'll go from my classrooms in Seattle to LA to the Bay to Oakland to New York to Newark. And they all look a certain way because I literally curate them. And I think what's happening in our classroom, what's so powerful-- I mean, when we go to graduations, people are just in-- it's like religion.
It's powerful. I've never seen anything like that. And it's not because of me. It's because of the girls. And it's because they come from so many walks of life. So it's like a lot of these girls, they've never met a black girl before. They never learned from a girl. They've never seen someone pray because they're Muslim and go through Ramadan. It's never happened.
And now they're building something together? Right? They're creating a company together? They're, like, pitching to the CEO of Uber together? It's incredible. And so the untold story of Girls Who Code, it's more than just coding. Like, what's happening in these classrooms, in terms of race and socioeconomic status, it's unreal. And why it's so important is these girls are going to create companies together.
Yeah. You know, I think it's, like, I was writing my book at the same time as I was developing Girls Who Code. And so a lot of my feelings about failure and rejection and sisterhood are very much kind of embedded in their psyche.
I don't know. It's weird. It's like they're these little mini Reshmas. It's really awesome to watch because they're like-- I remember one of them. It was like, the CEO of Twitter, like, only spent five minutes in the classroom. And she was like, come back here. We need more of your-- I mean, they're so bold. Like, they have so much swag. They're so confident. They're so-- it's amazing.
And I think it's at first learning something that society thinks is so hard and being able to feel like, oh, I got that. I can actually-- the very thing that all my friends are playing with, I can actually build that is amazing.
I think, secondly, we're very blessed to get a lot of really powerful, amazing people who come into the classroom. So they interact with people, and they roll. Like, they debate. And they question. And they're able to kind of work that sense of their brain, feel confident. So when they walk out of the classroom, they're just like fearless.
Oh, can I say one thing? One last thing-- I really hope that you guys come and volunteer at Girls Who Code. So every year, we basically have almost 200 paid spots to be teachers assistants or teachers. They're amazing opportunities to not only get access to industry, but there is nothing more powerful than teaching a girl how to code. I promise you.
So I think our applications are up in January. So please feel free to apply. Thank you.
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Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, delivered the 2015 Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecture Oct. 7 to a crowd of students, faculty and community members at the School of Hotel Administration. Her talk, "Workforce of the Future," explained the gender gap between men and women in the fields of technology and engineering, highlighting important consequences and possible solutions.