Today we’re very excited to share a recent conversation with had with Rachel Auslander, the prodigious founder of CoderGals. As a high school junior, Rachel started a program not unlike ours, but here in the United States. She provides free coding courses to elementary school girls to get them excited about STEM from an early age. The program is now available in Read on to learn more about all that CoderGals has done for America’s next generation of female coders, and how the organization was able to expand rapidly!
Your program has had such widespread adoption across the country. How were you able to achieve that?
CoderGals was able to scale across the country through the power of high school girls and social media. Our program is free to implement: we use free online resources, computers available in schools, libraries, and community centers, and mentors receive community service hours.
How have you been able to accomplish so much at such a young age?
Lots of persistence! Coding and starting an organization both require lots of trial and error and a willingness to keep learning when you don’t know how to do something. I’ve learned over time to believe in myself and my ideas — and other people have believed in me too.
What motivated you to start your program?
When I first learned how to code, I did not have any female STEM role models to look up to or a community of other girls to code with. I lost in interest in coding, but regained interest a few years later when I realized the impact that I could make with code. However, I still didn’t have a community of girls to code with or female STEM role models to look up to, and didn’t want other girls to have the same problems when they learned how to code for the first time. I founded CoderGals to show elementary school girls how coding connects to their interests and provide them with relatable female STEM role models – high school girls!
Which coding language is your favorite and why?
I like Swift because I enjoy making iOS apps to solve problems. In CoderGals workshops, my favorite language to teach is MIT Scratch because it is easy to learn and even beginners can create interesting projects with it!
Why do you think it’s so important, especially for young women, to learn to code?
It’s important for young women to learn how to code because we can make innovations to create change – we have big ideas and unique perspectives that we need to put into action. Coding is a super impactful tool that can help solve global problems. The world needs our ideas, now more than ever, to make a difference!
What advice do you have for our students as they begin to learn to code and start their own businesses?
Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something because you are a girl or because you’re too young. Go for it! Seek advice from people who are more experienced than you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep on learning