29. Reshma Saujani

Founder, Girls Who Code

29. Reshma Saujani

The Most Important Camp Counselor

Remember when summer camp was all crafts and cookouts? That’s so 20th century. Girls Who Code, founded by Reshma Saujani, is an eight-week summer program for teenage girls to learn coding, robotics, website development, and app making. “Teach one girl how to code, she’ll teach four,” says Saujani, former deputy public advocate of New York City. “The replication effect is so powerful.” With just 24% of tech jobs held by women, she’ll need that multiplier to achieve her goal of teaching 1 million girls to code by 2020.

One of Saujani’s (seated) teen campers built an app that helps homeless youth find shelter.

This isn’t just about equality for equality’s sake: Women engage in social media and online purchasing far more often than their male counterparts, and Saujani argues that tech companies should be hiring more of their consumer base. “Companies are really missing out on innovation if they don’t have women on the front line of their programmers, their designers, and their engineers,” she says. The program began in New York, but this year it will open branches in Detroit, San Francisco, and San Jose. Tech titans Twitter, Google, and GE seem to agree. All of these code-hungry companies are helping to fund Saujani’s enterprise.

[Photos by Robyn Twomey]

About the author

Lindsay Harrison is an Editorial Assistant at Fast Company. Before joining Fast Company, she wrote Missing: A Memoir, published by Simon & Schuster in 2011.