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Our prototype products

Why Girls?

I’m Reshma Saujani, and two years ago I founded the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code to teach teenage girls the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities and close the gender gap in technology.  We started out as a single pilot program in New York City — an 8-week summer program that paired intensive computer science education with female mentorship and tech industry exposure.

After watching our first class of 20 girls graduate from the program and go on to get internships at companies like Gilt, take the AP Computer Science exam, launch Girls Who Code clubs in their high schools, present their projects at the White House Science Fair, and otherwise blow my mind, I knew we were doing something right.

This year our Summer Immersion Program is gearing up to reach 320 young women across the country, and our Girls Who Code Clubs will reach thousands more.  Watching the incredible things 16 and 17 year old girls create and build, the friendships they form, and the passion they have for what they are learning, I never have to ask myself, “why girls?” The results of our programs speak for themselves.

But even two years after launching, the question still seems to follow me.  Whenever an article is written about Girls Who Code, I head straight to the comments section.  Inevitably, one of the first posts (usually meaning it’s the most popular) is some frustrating variation of, “Singling out girls is sexist,” or “Everyone knows girls just don’t like computer science.”

To be fair, a more productive perspective occasionally makes its way into the mix, asserting that all kids – boys and girls – should have access to high-quality computer science education.

That’s true. But as someone who has come to see this issue up close and personal, I am more certain every day that we need to do more to empower our girls in computer science and engineering.

Why?

Well, it’s not because they need extra help, or are inherently worse at it than boys are. In fact, girls are better at it.  Last year, a study found that 15-year-old girls around the world outperform boys in science, except in the US, Great Britain and Canada.  Similarly, math scores between boys and girls don’t diverge until adolescence.

And it’s not because girls aren’t interested in it. The reality is that girls consume technology more and at an earlier age than boys do, and women are the majority of users on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

We need to focus on girls because girls, unlike boys, are taught from an early age that computing fields are not for them.  They are inundated with media portrayals of the boy genius, the tech tycoon, and the mad scientist. (You know, the Albert Einstein-looking guy in a lab coat). Growing up, girls are handed a fashion doll who says, “Math Sucks” and sold  T-shirts that say, “Allergic to Algebra.”

Girls Who Code, GoldieBlox, and others are working to change those perceptions, and we need to see much, much more of that in years to come to ensure young women are on track to filling the more than 1.4 million jobs that are expected to be open in the computing fields by 2020.

But most importantly, we need to focus on girls because girls want to change the world.  It is in all our best interest to give them the tools they need to do it. Girls Who Code is leading a movement to reach 1 million girls with the skills and inspiration to become engineers and entrepreneurs, and if we bring everyone to the table–educators, CEOs, policymakers, parents, girls, even celebrities–I have no doubt we will succeed.

The Girls Behind the Goggles

Today I was reading through our old post, and I realized that we haven’t properly introduced ourselves.
Hi!
My name is Olivia. My best-friend MayLi and I conceived of LabCandy together a few years ago. In order to understand our company, you need to know a little more about us! Lets start at the very beginning…
May and I first met when we were kindergardeners at St. Patricks Episcopal Day school, over 13 years ago! We became best-friends the minute we met on the playground, and we’ve stuck together despite different high-schools and now far away colleges. I can’t imagine someone I would rather start a company with.
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That’s us on the end. Aww we’re so cute!
May and I first dreamed up LabCandy summer of our junior year of high school. The idea sprang from a blog that I had been working on (check out my last post for more info on this). When senior year came around, May was busy with early decision college applications and I was working on writing my research paper for the Siemens science competition, so LabCandy got pushed to the back burner. In the meantime we got a chance to do a lot of cool stuff! May got into her dream school, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and she started taking studio classes to better her goal of becoming a awesome industrial designer.
Drawing 1-1
Aren’t her sketches awesome? She’s the coolest.I also spent a good chunk of time trying to further my passion – getting more girls interested in science! I managed to work with some really cool people/organizations including:

-SciGirls, a nationally broadcasted PBS kids Emmy award winning TV show dedicated towards getting middle school girls involved in science.
- National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), a collection of collaboratives designed to reach girl serving STEM organizations and promote gender equity through better educating the educators.
-The Potomac School Science Club, a club I co-founded with two of my girlfriends sophomore year of high school. The club included both genders, though we paid special attention to getting girls involved. Running the club gave me a chance to play the educator, and to learn about things such as how/where teachers purchase lab equipment!
-many various student panels such as one nationally broadcasted by the JASON Argonauts for National Geographic regarding how electronics might be used to encourage girls to participate more in STEM classrooms.
-I got to work with Natalie Angier!! She’s a best-selling author and pulitzer prize winning science columnist for the New York Times (also one of my personal heroes).
In addition to the work I did promoting girls’ interest in science, I also spent time behind the lab bench doing my own research work alongside some phenomenal professors. Sophomore year I worked at the Lombardozzi cancer research center in Dr. Maria Avantagiatti’s lab studying oncology, and the summer of my junior year I worked in a neurobiology lab at Stanford looking at the effects of anesthesia on the brain. My subsequent paper on the effects of ethanol alcohol on GABAA receptors in the Hippocampus was lucky enough to place in the Siemens competition.
I feel so blessed to have worked and formed relationships with all these incredible people who are now so excited about Lab Candy! With our amazing mentors in the girls in STEM community and now our amazing mentors in the Yale community, May and I are ready to make LabCandy happen!
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Yay! Cue triumphant music.
Keep checking back here for more LabCandy info/updates!!

 

Welcome to Lab Candy!

Hi All! We’re Lab Candy. We help get young girls interested in science through creative lab gear!stock-photo-20078191-young-scientist

When most people think about science, they envision the stereotypical image of Albert Einstein – an old guy with crazy hair in a white lab coat and thick plastic goggles. For young girls, this image can seem intimidating and maybe even a little disassociating.
You see, as young female scientists ourselves, we know what it’s like to look at science and see something foreign and unfamiliar. A typical scientist doesn’t look like us – right now, science looks distinctly male. At Lab Candy, we are here to change all that!
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                                                                                                     That’s us.
We’ve taken something boring and uncool (lab goggles,) and turned them into a fashionable statement through which girls can express their individuality. Our goal is to make science more more personal and accessible for young girls through creative lab gear, and we think our new goggle line is just the ticket!
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Here’s some info about us…
Right now, Lab Candy consists of two people: MayLi and Olivia (that’s me). MayLi is an incredible industrial design major from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and she is the mastermind behind the beautiful customization of our goggles. I’m a student here at Yale, and together we have been selected to take part in the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s summer fellowship program! Yay!!
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Basically we get to sit/work in a room filled with eight other really cool ventures and ask some incredible mentors all of our tough questions. It’s awesome!
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This is our desk. Right now, all of Lab Candy creation/planning/dreaming/eating/sleeping takes place at this desk. Sorry my hair is so long. I’ve been growing it out to sell it to pay for goggle rhinestones (haha JK not really though).
I first got this idea when I was working for a neurobiology lab in Stanford and simultaneously blogging through the center for talented youth’s young blogger initiative. My blog was called “Lab Candy, a girl’s guide to some seriously sweet science” and I wrote fun posts trying to get young girls interested in science. Basically, I took my experiences in the lab and wrote about them in a way that was meant to appeal to middle school girls. Sound familiar? LOL
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One day I wrote a post on lab safety, and for the thumbnail photo I used a picture of myself wearing some bedazzled lab goggles I had made. I didn’t even mention the goggles in my actual post, yet on that one picture alone I got tons of comments! Young girls all over the country wanted to know where they could buy the goggles/ how to make them. In that moment, Lab Candy was born!
Now we are trying to make our dreams a reality! Right now Lab Candy is just a few pairs of goggles and an idea, but one day we hope to have a whole line of lab gear, designed by/for girls. Our goal is to launch on Kickstarter before the end of this summer, so we’ll need your help! Tell everyone you know, and keep checking in. Together, we’ll get more girls interested in science!!!