On April 9, I’ll be interviewing Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky about the future of wearable technology at our next ReadWriteMix event. The smartwatch pioneer and I will discuss the race to wire up our arms, the new developer community he created from scratch, and the ways our devices will connect in a post-smartphone world.
My hope is that the conversation will illuminate the audience. But now, I’m happy to say the evening will also help support a cause close to ReadWrite’s heart. While ReadWriteMix is free to attend, we’re now suggesting that attendees make a $10 donation to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit which helps young women acquire computer-science skills and pursue opportunities in technology. (You can donate online when you reserve your seat, or at the door.)
Technology For All
Since Richard MacManus founded this site in 2003, ReadWrite has stood for the democratization of technology—that we all benefit when more people have access to the tools and resources that allow them to tinker with hardware and software, and bit by bit create the world we want to see.
I spoke with Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani this week, who said she’s grateful for the support of ReadWriteMix attendees and told me about her organization’s burgeoning success. Girls Who Code started out helping 20 girls in 2012 with its first efforts. It now aims to help 3,000 girls learn code this year through its summer immersion programs and coding clubs.
Girls Who Code has also had a broader societal impact, Saujani told me.
“It’s helped start a conversation that seems to be happening everywhere about the role of women in technology,” she said. “It’s not gender for the sake of gender. We need to activate all sectors of our labor force.”
What impresses Saujani about her protégées is that they typically don’t want to learn code to get a job or seem cool. What motivates them instead is the opportunity to use code to solve problems in their community—from stopping hunger to curing cancer.
“I have no doubt that I’m going to be watching one of our girls win a Nobel Prize,” Saujani told me.
Making Change In The Heart Of Tech
Why are we supporting Girls Who Code at ReadWriteMix?
In many parts of the world, there’s a lack of understanding about technology and its potential, Saujani said. Parents discourage young women from entering technological fields.
“I was at Mt. Holyoke yesterday, and a woman came up to me and said, ‘My mother told me not to come to this talk, because she wants me to be a doctor and worried you would convert me, and you did.’” Saujani said.
Even in Silicon Valley, where the tech industry is a dominant force and programming is a well-known field, we have a lot of work to do.
“As technologists, they don’t do the ‘Take Your Daughters To Work Day,’ very well,” Saujani said. And some girls from the San Francisco Bay Area have told Saujani that their parents’ experience working in tech haven’t left them inclined to pursue the field. The technology industry has well-documented problems with being a welcoming place for women.
What will overcome that, Saujani says, is young women’s desire to address the challenges their local communities face.
“We don’t care if you have any experience,” she said. “We want to know if you’re going to use what you learn to solve a problem, to fix something. Young women are problem solvers.”
We’re proud to be supporting those problem solvers through ReadWriteMix.
Note: We have run out of reserved seats for the April 9 ReadWriteMix. If you’d still like to attend, please put your name on the waitlist.
Photos courtesy of Girls Who Code