Getting to Know the Identities of Adobe’s Girls Who Code Summer Program

This summer, Adobe hosted 100 high school girls in partnership with Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology, for a seven-week summer immersion program. The girls who participated learned the basics of coding while creating a network of sisterhood and professional role models – and when we heard they were looking for a partner to help share technical insights with 25 of these young women in San Francisco, we jumped at the opportunity.

When I was their age in school, I was passionate about science and math: I loved the challenge of solving problems and seeing the impact of that work. It was a passion that drove me and many of the young women I grew up with in India to pursue engineering in college. But I was surprised at how few women were in my engineering classes when I came to the States. While it’s improving, the number of women graduating with Computer and Information Sciences Bachelor’s degrees is still less than 20%.

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It struck me because it’s something we don’t always notice until we are sitting in a classroom or in a specific role within an organization. Now as a female engineer at Okta, my teammates and I are always looking for ways to support more women in the field. That’s why we jumped at the chance to work across departments at Okta to help design a workshop for the girls in Adobe’s San Francisco Girls Who Code class.

Screen%2520Shot%25202017 08 08%2520at%25205.13.07%2520PM Our session at Adobe centered around what we love most at Okta, identity – both from a personal and technical perspective. Members from our engineering and training teams, including Caroline Pierce, Chris Berry, Erin Baudo Felter, Frederico Hakamine, Gowthami Dommety, Kate Devlin and Silpa Nanduri, came together to design a coding workshop that explored what identity means for each of these young women and for technology today. We kicked off with a Mad Libs-style activity that helped us get to know each other, explaining who we were at home, work and school. From there we explored how these different lenses or ‘identities’ impacted our experiences, and how Okta plays a role in that identity experience in the business world.

Then we got into the coding side of things, showing these new coders how to build a sign-on widget that they can use to customize and build on a webpage. Using CodePen and their own instance of Okta’s developer edition, we defined what a widget is, learned how to customize it, explored social authentication, and from there helped the girls build their own websites. The results were incredible – check out our video for a sneak peek.

The best part, though, was hearing from them what they see in their own future identities after we wrapped. I chatted with several girls interested in pursuing a major or minor in Computer Science, and am proud we played a role in exposing them to a field that needs more women. Because at the end of the day, it’s these kinds of activities and conversations that empower more women (and men, including the many that supported the creation of this workshop!) to get involved, engaged and excited about diversity in technology.

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As a woman in tech, I know first-hand how impactful it is to explore these opportunities early and to see just how cool it is to be an engineer at that age. Thanks to partnerships like this one with Adobe, Girls Who Code and Okta, we can keep the door open to more women in technology in the future.

To learn more about Adobe’s work with Girls Who Code, see here.