Author and Entrepreneur Reshma Saujani Creates a National Movement Empowering Girls and Women in Tech

By Chris Olsen

In addition to launching and growing her business, Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani is a published author. Her business story is one of several featured by Publish Her to demonstrate the power of sharing your knowledge and entrepreneurial journey in a published book.

Reshma Saujani had just received a rejection from Yale University. As the daughter of Indian political refugees who fled Uganda in the 1970s, Reshma knew the importance of being brave, working hard and not giving up on the American dream. She had finished her undergraduate degree in three years, aced the LSATs and was currently studying public policy at Harvard. She was convinced a law degree from Yale would be her passport to changing the world and thought she had done everything right. But this was her third rejection.

Reshma didn’t give up. Eventually she was admitted to Yale. She also had a powerful realization during her time in law school. Her obsession with having the perfect resume was holding her back. All the time she’d spent working toward it was time she could have devoted to making a difference—tackling local, national and global issues she was passionate about. None of which required a degree from an Ivy League university. She made a conscious decision to focus less on perfection and more on making bold moves

This left me wondering a little … so she got into Yale, does that mean she ended up getting her law degree there? Maybe add a little more context to the third sentence, like “She also had a powerful realization during her time in law school.”

At age 34, Reshma made the first of several bold moves. She launched a grassroots congressional campaign against New York’s longtime incumbent. She had been working at a top five law firm and spent her evenings and weekends focusing on pro bono social justice cases and developing the first South Asian American voter outreach organization in the nation. Reshma decided to leave the stability of the law firm to run for political office. She lost by a landslide. It changed her life in many ways. She learned not only to accept failure and bounce back but to embrace it as a learning experience.

A few years later, while working as deputy public advocate for the city of New York, Reshma lost a bid for public office once again—this time as the state’s public advocate. Again, she looked for the lessons. Something she witnessed in the classrooms she visited while campaigning had stuck with her. She noticed that boys significantly outnumbered girls in computer classes. As she dug deeper, Reshma discovered the connection between the gender gap in computer sciences and the messages kids received starting at a young age. Boys were commended for being brave and taking risks, while girls were encouraged to strive for perfection.

The realization led Reshma to launch Girls Who Code in 2012. She started the organization with a single mission: to close the gender gap in technology. Through after-school clubs, campus programs and summer immersion programs, girls in grades three through 12 are provided an opportunity to explore computer coding in a fun and friendly girls-only environment. They design and develop websites, apps and wearable tech. They learn about tech jobs and meet women working in technology fields.

Since its launch, Girls Who Code has reached hundreds of thousands of girls. Reshma and her team are working to change perceptions about what computer programmers do and what they look like. Participants are entering college and declaring computer science and related majors in large numbers. It has become a national movement for empowering girls and young women in tech.

Amplifying Her Business Mission With a Book

Well-meaning parents and teachers praise girls for being quiet, polite, careful. As a result, girls grow up to be women who are afraid to fail. Reshma’s New York Times bestselling book, “Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder” (Currency), is a guide to help young women claim their voice, leave behind what makes them unhappy, and get what they genuinely, passionately want. Reshma shares powerful insights and practices to help young women let go of their need for perfection and make bravery a lifelong habit.

Reshma is also the author of “Pay Up: The Future of Women at Work” (One Signal Publishers) and “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line: Break the Mold, Lead the Way” (New Harvest).

Learn more about Reshma’s business at GirlsWhoCode.org.

Purchase “Brave, Not Perfect” and Reshma’s other titles here.

Photo credit: Elena Seibert

Write Your Business Book in Eight Weeks

Sharing your business knowledge and the story of your entrepreneurial journey in a published book is a dynamic way to elevate your expertise and your brand. It’s a valuable marketing tool for business consultants, coaches and public speakers.

Write Your Business Book in Eight Weeks is an eight-week class that guides women entrepreneurs through writing, marketing and publishing your business book. Interactive sessions led by author, educator and publisher Chris Olsen include time for writing, sharing and feedback. At its conclusion, you will have completed the framework for your business book and a first draft.

Learn more about Write Your Business Book in Eight Weeks here.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded independent publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.

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