Brandon Sugarman, a Stanford undergraduate Math and Computer Science major, recently reached out to me saying my experience and work as a UN Women advocate and teen celebrity journalist in the Los Angeles Times “is very impressive, and I think you may be the perfect person to write this article.”
Today, on International Day of the Girl Child, I am doing just that and turning the advancement of technology and innovation into a catalyst for social good and investing in opportunities for women and girls in this field by sharing meaningful stories and supporting opportunity and equity.
Two years ago, Sugarman and his brother Cody Sugarman started a programming academy for high schoolers at Stanford University called Code Sleep Repeat. The academy offers an immersive technology experience and is taught by Stanford computer science students and graduates and as Sugarman shared with me, he aims to create a diverse group of students.
As a UN Women advocate and teen celebrity journalist, I saw an opportunity to make a difference and spearhead the mission to “impact hundreds of students and empower young women and provide scholarships and incentives to create a stronger female presence in the field of computer science” as Sugarman said to me.
Investing in technology and innovation and the innovators driving these fields is tantamount to progress, a drive which Sugarman and I are passionate about leading.
By encouraging and creating opportunities for women who are interested to pursue these fields, we’re giving them an opportunity to shape the future.
“Computer science is an extraordinarily exciting field. Every day, we are inundated by headlines about cryptocurrencies, autonomous vehicles, and the ever-growing presence of machine learning (‘AI’) in our daily lives,” Sugarman said to me. “Unfortunately, for many young women, computer programming feels unapproachable because it has historically been a male-dominated field and the Silicon Valley tech landscape has often been described as a ‘boys club.”
A class picture from Code Sleep Repeat’s June session this year. Image shared with me by Brandon Sugarman.
We are using our voices to advocate for equal opportunities for women in tech and proving young women are a powerful force in this field.
“We want to change the way that young women view computer science. CS is certainly the most popular major on Stanford campus, and the number of women at Stanford interested in pursuing a computer science degree has skyrocketed over the past decade,” Sugarman said to me. “At Code Sleep Repeat this June, our faculty was 70% female — we wanted to send a message to our students: that the landscape of Silicon Valley is quickly changing and that the future is female. And while we weren’t quite able to achieve our goal of a 1:1 male to female student ratio, we demonstrated to our Class of 2019 one simple fact: young women are a powerful force in the computer science field.”
I’m honored to support an organization striving to expand gender diversity in the tech space and make a social impact for the greater good.
“We want to continue encouraging young women to apply to our program,” Sugarman said to me. “And we feel [you have] the perfect platform to achieve this!”
Learn more about the program here: https://codesleeprepeat.com/