About our Founder
When I was first introduced to computer programming, as a freshman in Electrical Engineering, Fortran and Pascal were the popular languages for newbies in computing and the Apple Macintosh was the new kid on the block. I remember being excited by the prospects, and looked forward to embarking on a rich and rewarding career after college.
But I also recall, as I pursued my studies, feeling culturally isolated: few of my classmates looked like me. While we shared similar aspirations and many good times, there’s much to be said for making any challenging journey with people of the same cultural background.
Much has changed since my college days, but there’s still a dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions, an absence that cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields. Lack of access and lack of exposure to STEM topics are the likelier culprits.
By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.
That, really, is the Black Girls Code mission: to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.
Imagine the impact that these curious, creative minds could have on the world with the guidance and encouragement others take for granted.
I have, and I can’t wait!
Black Girls CODE is devoted to showing the world that black girls can code, and do so much more. By reaching out to the community through workshops and after school programs, Black Girls CODE introduces computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails. Black Girls CODE has set out to prove to the world that girls of every color have the skills to become the programmers of tomorrow. By promoting classes and programs we hope to grow the number of women of color working in technology and give underprivileged girls a chance to become the masters of their technological worlds.
Since our launch in April 2011, Black Girls CODE has had the honor of bringing technology and entertainment to many wonderful girls of color. By teaching the girls programming and game design, we hope to have started the lifelong process of developing in them a true love for technology and the self-confidence that comes from understanding the greatest tools of the 21st century.
And though we at Black Girls CODE cannot overstate our happiness with the results of our classes, this is just the first step in seeking to bridge the digital divide. The digital divide, or the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital technology and those without, is becoming an increasingly critical problem in society. As more and more information becomes electronic, the inability to get online can leave entire communities at an extremely dangerous disadvantage.
Sadly, San Francisco’s digital divide falls along the same racial and social fault lines that characterize so many of society’s issues. White households are twice as likely to have home Internet access as African American houses. Bayview Hunters Point, Crocker Amazon, Chinatown, Visitacion Valley, and the Tenderloin have significantly lower rates of home technology use than the rest of the city. Sixty-six percent of Latinos report having a home computer, as opposed to 88 percent of Caucasians.
Through community outreach programs such as workshops and after school programs, we introduce underprivileged girls to basic programming skills in languages like Scratch and Ruby on Rails. Introducing girls of color to these skills gives them an introduction to today’s computer technology, an essential tool for surviving in the 21st century. The skills they acquire through the programs give these young women a chance at well-paying professions with prestigious companies, as well as the ability to enter into the field as an entrepreneurs and leaders of technology.
“Imagine. Build. Create.” has always been our motto at Black Girls CODE. The digital divide is steadily eroding, but if we want to create truly universal access to technology, San Francisco needs to come together as a community. Imagine a world where everyone is given the tools to succeed, and then help us build ways for everyone to access information and create a new age of women of color in technology.