Women in Power: Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code

By Ellevest Team

Ellevest’s “Women in Power” series gets real about what it takes to succeed as a woman launching a company — and in this episode, we turn to the nonprofit world. No surprise, but gender pay gaps and discrimination are just as real there as they are in startups. In this episode, Reshma Saujani, the creator of the nonprofit Girls Who Code, talks about changing the world with one idea, how running for office made her brave, and why she’s a financial feminist.

Reshma Saujani on building Girls Who Code

My parents came here as refugees. I think they literally had $10 in their pockets when they came to this country. Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something. If you have an idea, it can actually change the world. My name is Reshma Saujani and I'm the CEO and founder of Girls Who Code.

I'm a financial feminist because I believe that more women will be brave when they have control over their financial destiny.

How not getting elected makes you brave

I went to all the right schools, was a straight A student. I went to work at what I thought were all the right firms. And I was miserable. I wasn't doing what I felt like I was put on this Earth to do. So I quit and ran for Congress. It was the best experience of my life because it taught me how to be brave.

I saw that far too many girls weren't gonna have a shot to march up into the middle class. That's why I started Girls Who Code, because I wanted to make sure that they had control over their own economic future. I borrowed a friend's conference room. I hand-picked my first 20 girls. It was in that first moment of our first class, I'm like, "Wow. This is something."

One of the good things about being a failed politician is I've had lots of experience of raising money and convincing people to invest in me when the outcome is bleak. Six years later, I've never stopped asking for investment in this amazing idea, in this movement.

Women’s “funny” relationship with money

As women, or as girls, we're raised to have this funny relationship with money, to almost be afraid of it. And since we're not taught how to invest, how to take risks, when we get older we don't ask for raises. This problem is very solvable.

We've reached over 40,000 girls in all 50 states. We’re marching towards 100,000. We run 80 summer immersion programs in 11 cities. When I look at the rates of our girls that are going into this field, we can do this. We have to do this.

I don't want to go back. I want to make sure that my son is 10 times more aware. My husband and I have been very intentional about how we've raised him, to surround him around powerful women and girls. You know what we call in Hinduism... what's your dharma. What are you put on this Earth to do? You're more likely to figure that out if you have financial freedom and financial control.

I'm Reshma Saujani, and I'm a financial feminist because I believe that more women will be brave when they have control over their financial destiny.


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Ellevest Team

The Ellevest team is working to help women reach their financial and professional goals.