Girls Who Code Celebrates International Day of the Girl By Encouraging Young Women to #MakeThatChange

Girls Who Code Celebrates International Day of the Girl By Encouraging Young Women to #MakeThatChange

International Day of the Girl is a huge deal for us at Girls Who Code. Each year on this day, we go all out to celebrate Sisterhood: the incredible power young women have to lift each other up and harness technology to create the future we want to live in.

On October 11, we celebrated the day by launching #MakeThatChange, a campaign with a bold new message for girls: when you learn to code, you can not only make the change you want to see in the world, but you can change the trajectory of your own life, too. And when women in tech come together, they don’t just make change — they 💸 💸 #MakeThatChange. 💸 💸

Here’s the truth: STEM jobs are not just among the fastest-growing occupations — they also pay 26% more than other careers. The median wage for a tech job is more than double the national median wage.

At Girls Who Code, we believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, so all last week, we spotlighted amazing women making change in their fields, their communities, and, just as importantly, for themselves. And we want to introduce you to them here.

We asked each of these role models about working in tech and, of course, making change — in both senses.

Tiffany Kelly is the Founder and CEO at Curastory, a platform helping college athletes monetize their own content and take more control over their own careers.

What’s one thing about working in tech you think every young girl should know?

You can be self-taught and still succeed as if you obtained a college degree in the field. Tech is all about innovation. My major in college was my passion — sports management. All of my coding experience I taught myself and learned on the job at ESPN. Don’t be afraid to pick up a computer and learn

What do you think the world would look like if women controlled more wealth?

More empathetic, equal, and less power-hungry. I think women have an incredible ability to lead towards a big vision, but not without paying attention to details and making other humans feel seen.

Karina Popovich, is a junior at Cornell University and a Girls Who Code alumni, founded “Makers for COVID-19”, an initiative to 3D print PPE materials for medical professionals on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

What is the change you most want to see in the world? Have your tech skills enabled you to contribute to it?

At this point, we have shown more female role models in STEM, made education resources easily available online, created gender-inclusive STEM toys, and portrayed more relatable women and girls in STEM in the media. We still have to make STEM something less intimidating, we have to show it for how inspirational and beautiful it is. We need to change the perception around STEM so that everyone knows it’s within reach for them, and can be comfortable exploring it.

My background in tech has given me the skills to launch INERTIA which is all about creating Instagrammable and relatable experiences that show the creative side of STEM. I get to 3D model, design, and build our pop-ups!

Yamilée Toussaint Beach is the Founder and CEO of STEM From Dance, a nonprofit organization helping Black and Latinx girls build awareness of and preparation for a STEM education — through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance.

When you were growing up did adults talk to you about salaries and career paths? Was it different from boys?

Growing up, we did not talk about money much. However, I was able to see the lifestyle my parents’ careers in STEM were able to afford us. My parents immigrated to the US from Haiti. My father was a mechanical engineer and my mother was a laboratory technologist. They are now retired and enjoying days filled with pursuing their passions (or just sitting around doing nothing!). I witnessed firsthand that careers in STEM can be lucrative and they can create amazing opportunities. I always imagined those opportunities for me, even as a young girl. My parents never made me feel that boys, like my brother, were any more capable than me.

What’s one thing about working in tech you think every young girl should know?

Every young girl should know that tech is like a toolbox to build your wildest and boldest dreams. I dreamed of a way to empower girls to reach their greatest potential, and I was able to create that through tech.

Minerva Tantoco was the first-ever CTO of the City of New York. She made NYC the most tech-friendly city in the world. You know what they say…if you can make change here, you can make it anywhere #MakeThatChange.

Do you feel you’re “going it alone” or do you feel you have the support of the other women around you?

In the beginning, there were so few women and I should shout-out both the men and women who helped me, gave me great advice, promoted, and supported, and always believed in me. The biggest shout-out is to my Mom, who actually studied programming in the 1980s, and shows how important it is to have role models. No one does this journey alone, and I look for ways to open doors for other women who need support, encouragement, contacts, and networking.

What’s one thing about working in tech you think every young girl should know?

Your creative mind is your biggest asset in a tech career. Sometimes people don’t realize that tech is an incredibly creative and artistic career. I studied computer science and biology, but I also studied studio art and philosophy. Having a visual way of learning was a distinct advantage in being able to make drawings of concepts, find patterns, and make connections. These skills definitely drove me to a career in software architecture and innovation roles as CTO. Learning the tools of code, hardware, and data, to express yourself is like using a new language similar to learning to play an instrument to play music and using painting techniques to make art. Like any of these skills, you get comfortable using the tools with a lot of practice.

Emmy Chavez is FinTech web designer. Google hackathon winner. Blockchain and cryptocurrency wizard. She’s a student ready to change the world and change her life, all in one.

How has your job/field changed your life for the better? How has it changed the lives of your family?

My job in the tech field made me understand, as well as help others understand, what technology is. I bump into countless people who think technology is going to ruin this earth. Yes, it can be challenging to accept the existence of technology. I mean, AI can control the world, Robots are getting rid of jobs, social media can cause depression, and much more.

But my job field made me realize and respect technology for what it is. If we all come together and recognize that we can use technology for good, we can change the world. We can reverse global warming by creating renewable energy to develop new environmental waste solutions.

Technology has helped my family through using it as a ruler, an artificial intelligence therapist, and simply saving gas when Google tells us there are no cookies in stock at ShopRite. These little things end up changing the world and people’s perspectives on what technology is and what it can become.

Roselin Rosario is a cosmetic chemist who innovates makeup that empowers people to express themselves.

What types of experiences and things has a STEM salary allowed you to afford?

My STEM salary has allowed me to be 100% independent and have financial stability. It also allowed me to learn how to manage my income responsibly so I can do/have the things I want. I now live in NYC, something I felt was impossible. I have traveled to so many different places. I am able to live the life of my dreams.

Anamita Guha is a Quantum Computing and AI Creator at Facebook, where she innovates ways to protect your data.

When you were growing up did adults talk to you about salaries and career paths? Was it different from boys?

This is a very interesting, and tricky question because, in addition to being a woman, I am an Asian woman. I feel this intersectionality adds a very nuanced layer to the question. While I feel like there were a lot of conversations about career paths, there were little to none about salary. I had always been taught to be grateful for whatever was offered — not necessarily to advocate for fair compensation. I know for many girls discussions about salary and career path are different from what boys receive. I was fortunate to have parents who treated me equally. I am now a very big proponent of all my ladies (and other minority groups) getting paid their worth, and then some.

What’s one thing about working in tech you think every young girl should know?

Technology touches everything. Are you interested in animals? You could analyze data about Bengal tigers to understand how they move. Are you interested in sports? You could build software that allows you to watch games on your phone. Are you interested in making the world safer? You could work in the intersection of privacy and AI (like me!). So for every young girl out there, I encourage you all to explore how technology intersects with your interests.

Kayla and Daelah Nicholas are sisters and Girls Who Code Club students ready to take over the world. Kayla is a web designer who helps provide legal resources to young people. Daelah is a future doctor who is working on a research project alongside college professors.

We are Girls Who Code & together we are closing the gender gap in tech! #BeAGirlWhoCodes