One of the girls asked, “What if you LOVE to code?” and every girl still raised her hand.
By Rachel Auslander
Collage by Alex Hanson featuring an image courtesy of CoderGals
When I was in 6th grade, my mom found a drag-and-drop coding program called Alice. I started using it because it seemed fun. I was obsessed with iMovie at the time, so using code to make little animations with animals appealed to me. I played around with it for a few months, then I forgot about it. Two years later, I discovered Codecademy. I started to learn how to make a website, which was so cool. It was amazing to be able to create something that could be immediately available for anyone to see. However, I had the same problems during both of these experiences. I knew boys involved in robotics, but none of my female friends were interested in coding. I also didn’t have a role model or a mentor.
The root cause of this is visibility. Exceptional women in STEM exist. They’re not unicorns. They’re just rarely highlighted by mainstream media. When I was younger, I loved J.K. Rowling because I loved the Harry Potter series— I even dressed up as her for a historical figure fair. I had never heard of what I consider real wizardry, coding, in any books. I also looked up to Emma Watson and Miley Cyrus because those were the role models promoted to me. The icons that girls are presented with are generally celebrities, musicians, or actresses— not scientists or successful businesswomen. The funny thing is that these are all creators, but we are told to look up to creators of content rather than creators of innovations. This isn’t inherently bad, but if girls don’t have STEM role models to look up to, how will they become involved? It’s hard to be what you can’t see. Continue reading “CoderGals: An Origin Story”
By Julia Arciga
Art by Charlotte Southall
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a chemist. Then I found out I was really, really bad at all things STEM.
No, it’s completely true. I scraped through pre-calc on some kind of miracle. Physics was so intriguing to me, but I would always get those pesky equations wrong—no matter how hard I tried. But my apparent non-affinity for all things science never really stopped me from trying: I once enrolled in a free open course from Yale on Quantum Physics (bad idea, in hindsight). I was a part of my high school’s Science Olympiad club, and got 7th place in competition. I was never a scientific success, but I was just so happy to be surrounded by things that I knew nothing about that I didn’t really care if I embarrassed myself.
I got my start in coding in a completely unusual way: through supermodel Karlie Kloss.
Once upon a time, I also wanted to be a professional model (also a bad idea for me, in hindsight). Karlie Kloss was one of my idols—and she’s still such a muse of mine to this day, although my supermodel dreams are far behind me. I caught wind that she was picking up coding, and I thought that was super interesting: some glamorous fashion goddess was flaunting her geeky side. Mix that with companies like Google and Snapchat moving into my neighborhood of Venice Beach and my dad working on code around the house, and it wasn’t long before I decided to sign up for Codecademy, just to give it a shot. Continue reading “Cracking Code, and Subsequently, Life Itself”