"We need to teach our girls to be brave ... not perfect," says Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code.
Saujani knows firsthand what it means to be brave.
Back in 2010, she decided to run against incumbent Carolyn Maloney for the Democratic Congressional seat in New York -- and she lost. Bad.
"But losing that congressional race was the bravest thing I had ever did," says Saujani. "Because, oh my God, I didn't die."
While many people would have curled up in the fetal position and felt like they did die, Saujani got up and used her experience from the campaign to give back.
Because that's what her parents taught her. She is the daughter of refugees from Uganda, "My parents came here with $10 in their pocket. I am so in awe of that," she says.
Talk about brave.
"And I am so grateful I had opportunities - because of my parents."
More importantly, her father taught her to give back.
And that's actually what Saujani wanted to do. She saw the severity of the technology divide between boys and girls while on visiting schools on the campaign trail back.
So she started Girls Who Code, to help close that gap -- without actually knowing how to code.
"I meet girls every day that are full of humanity and compassion -- but who are born in hard circumstances, and I want them to have a chance," says Saujani, much like her parents gave her one.
"Our country will be better off if those girls get those opportunities."
Girls Who Code now is 40,000 girls strong, with 80 summer immersion programs and over 1,500 after-school clubs across the country.
The summer immersion programs basically are embedded classrooms in companies like Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) , Facebook Inc. (FB) , AT&T Inc. (T) , Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) - and are free to junior and senior high school girls. The programs cover projects related to computer science, such as art, storytelling, robotics, video games, web sites, and apps.
The after-school programs are in middle schools and local town centers. "We have a program in Carrollton, Ohio, where the girls have no Wi-Fi at home but meet at the local library to learn how to code."
These experiences are staying with the girls. Now, when Saujani visits college campuses and goes into computer science classes, "the vast majority of the girls in those classes are our girls," she says.
Learn to Code and Change the World is the apropos name of her book, and all the proceeds go to her nonprofit.
Saujani single-handedly is molding a generation of young women -- who inevitably will graduate to our boardrooms and C-suites -- using very simple mantras.
Learn how to code.
And most importantly ... be brave.
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer manages as a charitable trust, is long FB.
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