The founder of Girls Who Code has learned a lesson in bravery all lifelong learners should apply

Last updated November 30, 2018

Reshma Saujani’s father gave her three choices: she could grow up to become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer.

“He knew those jobs pay well,” recalled the founder of Girls Who Code, who spoke at a recent conference in Toronto focused on helping more women achieve leadership positions in tech companies called #MoveTheDial. In the end, Saujani wound up majoring in political science, along with speech communication.

Law school followed, but the path to becoming a founder was not based on success but a devastating failure: having worked for Hilary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign, Saujani ran as a candidate in the 2010 Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives against an incumbent Congresswoman, receiving endorsements from the likes of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. In the end, however, she lost, and admitted the experience left her reeling.

When it came time to figure out what to do next, Saujani realized there was a gender deficit in terms of those who, like the people using Course Compare, are learning skills like web development to help organizations pursue digital transformation.

“You talk to any CEO and they’ll tell you, ‘I can’t find enough technical talent.’ The solution is women,” she said. “You have to expose them as young as you possibly can, but parent after parent say they struggle in getting their girls interested.”

Although she admitted her “confidence level was low,” and that technology wasn’t an area in which she had expertise, Saujani founded Girls Who Code and has since watched thousands of young women recognize their potential to develop and apply programming skills. In fact, Saujani’s appearance was timed to announce that Girls Who Code will now be expanding into Canada as well.

In the process, however, Saujani has not only proven that making a big career change by venturing into the unknown is possible. She’s also learned a more specific lesson about learning to code that even adults researching classes, bootcamps and workshops on Course Compare should keep in mind:

While walking around early Girls Who Code sessions, Saujani noticed that students would often call teachers over and complain that they didn’t know what kind of code to write on their screens. The teacher would look over the girl’s shoulder and see a blank text editor. If the teacher pressed the “undo” command, however, often a bunch of code would pop up — code that had been written but then had been deleted.

“Instead of showing progress, they would rather show nothing at all,” Saujani said, adding that with the right teaching, anyone can start to overcome those kinds of fears because web development is intended to be a process of experimentation and revision. 

“Coding teaches bravery — because it teaches you how to be imperfect.”

Want to learn how to code? Explore Canada’s top-rated schools and courses for web development. 


Shane Schick

Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate and manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing Magazine and B2B News Network. He is also the former Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief) at IT World Canada, a former technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada, and was the founding editor of