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Girls find their future in coding

Girls find their future in coding

Coding Confidence

Student entrepreneur designs camps to help girls defy stereotypes

The digital economy continues to grow, adding jobs in software, cybersecurity, and cloud computing every day. Yet, only 25 percent of today’s coders are women. Emily Harburg, a Northwestern PhD student in Technology and Social Behavior, set out to narrow this gap and help girls change their stories about coding. Her research in the self-efficacy that comes from supportive learning environments made her optimistic about the opportunity for women to lead in tech, and her entrepreneurial spirit led her to bring her research to life. In 2015, Emily co-founded Brave Initiatives with Anna Bethune, a PhD student in Learning Sciences, and Jen Kamins. Brave Initiatives is a non-profit that offers free coding workshops to girls from primarily low-income communities. In weeklong camps, girls learn to build websites that address social issues they are passionate about – with topics that range from ending gun violence to bullying – all while becoming more confident about their abilities to shape their own stories and work in any field.

Some stats about Brave Initiatives

416+girls taught

$0cost to students

86%of girls continue to code

Building up Brave at Northwestern

While forming the idea for Brave Initiatives, Harburg turned to Northwestern’s resources for entrepreneurs to bring it to fruition.

The Garage

The Garage

Emily was welcomed by the entrepreneurial community at The Garage, Northwestern's hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation. There she networked with other entrepreneurs and attended workshops for building a successful startup.

The Garage brings together a cross-disciplinary community of students, faculty, staff and alumni who share a passion for entrepreneurship. The 11,000 square foot space is currently home to approximately 60 student-founded startups per quarter.

A Supportive Community of Entrepreneurs

Northwestern encourages entrepreneurs, like Claire Lew, to turn their scholarship into impact. From healthcare to energy and the environment, see how our community is working to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Published: June 18, 2018. Updated: January 25, 2019.

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