Before starting Girls Inc. of San Diego County (GISD), fifteen-year-old Gabriella aspired to become a computer engineer, but felt that she couldn’t relate to any other girls her age. As a result, Gabriella felt alone and became shy about voicing her goals.
“The biggest challenge I faced before coming to the Girls Inc. coding program was that none of my friends wanted to join me,” Gabriella said.
With her goal of becoming a computer engineer in mind, Gabriella signed up for Google’s Made with Code program. Girls Inc. of San Diego County was one of the first among the Girls Inc. affiliates to implement this program.
Within the next four years, more than 1.4 million computer science jobs will become available. While college graduates are expected to fill 29 percent of these jobs, women are only expected to fill three percent. Made with Code aims to address this issue by inspiring girls ages thirteen to eighteen to learn coding and computer science. By learning how to code, the girls learn computational thinking and versatile skills like perseverance and confidence.
While Gabriella initially joined the Made with Code program to learn the basics of coding, she was surprised to find that instead of diving right into the technical side, the girls did group activities first to collaborate and get to know each other. Since joining, Gabriella has learned to become more confident about voicing her aspirations. Her close bond with Rosa Alvarado, the program leader, has been essential to the growth in her self-confidence. The friendships she has formed with the other girls has also impacted her extensively.
“It was finally being able to talk to other girls who have the same interests as me,” Gabriella said. “They helped me by encouraging me to keep trying.” Since joining the supportive community at GISD, Gabriella no longer feels self-conscious when talking about her goals. “The biggest change I have seen in myself is that I started opening up more and talking about my goals to my friends and parents,” she said. “Now I feel like I can talk to people about it and not feel weird.”
Gabriella is hoping to go to California State University – San Marcos or University of California – Berkeley to study computer programming. Her experience with Made with Code solidified her passion for coding and has inspired to her attend a summer workshop on robotics to learn more.
“My proudest achievement related to the program is looking more into programming and knowing it can be a career that I love.”