There’s a wide disparity when it comes to females versus males in the world of computer coding: 8% of current computer developers are women and 92% are male. Statistics like these are not lost on 16-year-old Juliette Palacios, who founded the nonprofit Computing Minds, which aims to inspire and educate girls in computer science careers.
Creating an Opportunity
Computing Minds offers free online coding classes to girls ages 9-12. Though girls are statistically doing better than boys in STEM-related subjects, Palacios recognized that girls needed more opportunities in computer science.
“Right now there is not much diversity in computer science. I think that one reason for this is that boys growing up are encouraged to go into science more than girls are,” Palacios tells Parentology. “I want to be able to start letting girls know at a young age about what kind of futures they could pursue if they wanted to.”
Palacios’ interest in coding started in the fourth grade after learning about the fundamentals of computer science. Then at 14 as a freshman in high school, she took a beginner’s coding class, which led to other computing classes and the birth of an exciting journey that’s just getting started.
However, as a young Mexican female, Palacios understands what it’s like to pursue something, but also feel like you are unwelcome.
“It is really important to me to not only highlight the lack of gender equality, but also the lack of ethnic diversity in the technology industry,” she says.
How It Works
Girls can go on the Computing Minds website and simply send a message saying that they’re interested in joining the classes. Once they get the green light, the fun begins.
Each class starts with a check-in and discussion about how everyone is doing. The girls then open up their projects, the instructor shares their screen, and everyone works through the lesson together.
“The projects are designed with instructional steps, but there are always a ton of opportunities for students to add lots of their own personal touches,” says Palacios. “I hope that from these classes, girls can have a fun first experience with coding and be open to pursuing computer science again in their futures.”
While classes are only offered to girls ages 9-12 right now, Palacios says she would like to offer different classes for girls and women of all ages in the future. Likewise, young women can stay inspired over the summer by attending the first Computing Minds Women In Technology Conference.
Computing Minds has also started offering scholarships to young women who need some financial support to reach their goals of pursuing a career in computer science.
As for herself, Palacios says she would like to pursue a career involving business and computer science but wants to continue working with Computing Minds to achieve more diversity in the field.
Anyone interested in supporting this movement to empower girls to thrive in STEM classes and careers can donate to this life-changing nonprofit via their website at ComputingMinds.org/donate.