The front cover of the new Girls Who Code novel, “The Friendship Code,” showcases a familiar image of girl friendships: four tweens are hanging out in a bedroom, chatting it up and having fun.
While the room is decked out in purples and pinks, stars and fluffy pillows, crack open the book, and you’ll discover a story that’s far from stereotypically girly. The “gossip” these characters are dishing has to do with computer apps and coding –the foundation of their friendship and the club they’ve formed.
“When I first started Girls Who Code, I realized that there was a need for books that described what it’s like to actually be a girl who codes,” says Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, who will promote “The Friendship Code” on Sept. 21 at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena as part of a national book tour. “I always say, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ And that’s true for books, too. We need to read stories about girls who look like us in order to be inspired to try something new.”
The novel, written by Stacia Deutch, is designed as “a Baby-Sitters Club for the tech era,” according to publisher Penguin Random House The book, which will be part of a fiction series, introduces simple coding techniques: “These lines of code are if statements or conditionals,” Erin one of the book’s characters, explains. “If the first conditions are met, then the directions will be followed by a computer.”
Founded in 2012, Girls Who Code has attempted to remove the stigma surrounding the technology industry for girls and build a safe, welcoming learning environment for girls interested in STEM. So far, programs established and financed by the organization have served more than 10,000 young women, and Girls Who Code’s mission is to get more than one million women to start coding by 2027.
Saujani has swept through the L.A. area before. The non-profit organization has also hosted a summer immersion program in L.A. to equip 11th and 12th grade girls for career opportunities in computer science.
“We’re facing a massive gender gap in computer science, spurred by three decades of telling girls that computing and technology are not for them,” Saujani says. “Girls Who Code set an ambitious goal to reverse this trend and close the gender gap in tech. With Penguin, we’re one step closer to achieving our mission. Together, we will teach a generation of female coders and inspire them to use technology to change the world.”
While “The Friendship Code” tells the story of four middle-school girls of wildly different backgrounds, personalities and hobbies finding common ground by learning and writing code, “Learn to Code and Change the World” is Girls Who Code’s first-ever coding guide, aimed specifically at young women who might just be beginning to consider the tech field as a dream pursuit.