Girls Who Code Today Become Women in Power Tomorrow

For the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, I organized a day-in-the life field trip for 20 Los Angeles area high school girls at the Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures (BCGDV) headquarters to learn about various career paths in the digital innovation space.

Throughout the day, participants took a tour of the office, saw presentations on what each cohort does, had an informal Q&A with women in leadership, and participated in a design thinking workshop to help ideate products that help girls figure out “what they want to be when they grow up.”

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Programs like Girls Who Code didn’t exist when I was in high school. As one of the few females in my computer science classes, I was accustomed to being an outlier. But it was incredibly difficult to figure out what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” As a result, I ran a lot of experiments in real-time.

After working in Silicon Valley for a stint, I pivoted my career and went back to school to study fashion design. I went on to run a number of businesses, including a consultancy in the digital space, which led to product management at BCG Digital Ventures.

The specific set of challenges women in tech face are front and center right now–and for good reason. The number of women graduating with CS degrees now is even less than when I was in school. In order to continue to make progress, we must keep this topic in the forefront.

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Women are typically the early adopters, accounting for–by far–the majority of spending decisions in the US. If women are the ones using the technology, then shouldn’t we be contributing more to its design and development? Recently, a friend of mine working on a women’s health app noticed that every single team member (including him) was male. Something is wrong with this picture! We need balanced viewpoints and actual end-users guiding key product decisions.

When you consider that companies with women founders perform three times better than the S&P 500, and that female-operated, venture-backed companies average higher annual revenues and use less capital, it’s of paramount importance that we increase the amount of women in prominent, influential roles. Ultimately, we need to create an environment where females are securing positions of power not just in the corporate world, but as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, politicians and beyond.

It is my hope that we will eventually come to a place where gender roles no longer exist–no labeling or discrimination by race, sexual orientation, or otherwise. This of course requires huge systemic change and support. Part of this shift is flooding the workplace with diversity, open-mindedness, and amazing talent. That’s where organizations like Girls Who Code come in. The more girls we get excited about technology, the more women we will have in the industry in the coming years, hopefully creating new standards for the ways we work together.

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© Nicole Lenzen 2024

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