Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Girls Who Code -- that time I gave a pretty good speech

This summer, I interned at Adobe through Girls Who Code. At the end of the 8 week program, during which I learned about robotics, web design, app development, and more, the 19 other girls in my program voted me as class valedictorian. Watch my speed below:

Good evening to all distinguished guests from Adobe and Girls Who Code, the 2015 Adobe GWC teaching staff, parents and families of all the students, and perhaps most importantly, to my fellow Girls Who Code participants. My name is Nanki Grewal, and I am a senior at Dougherty Valley High School. This summer, 19 girls gave me the pleasure of their company as we went through frustration, excitement, and curiosity, went to incredible places, and met incredible people. All these events have culminated to today. This evening marks a celebration of learning, initiative and especially of the future.

The future: a daunting chasm of the unknown. One of the only things humans will never completely accurately know or predict. Each person makes their own choices that greatly influence the future, perhaps unknowingly, and thus change the path of their life. One of these choices that us 20 girls have in common was applying to this program. And I'm sure you can agree when I say that this was a choice that changed your life.

Whether what you took away from this program was the knowledge and the relationships you formed, or if it was the confidence that you too are a technologist, Girls Who Code gave us so many assets we can use in the future in order to reach our full potential, and I know for a fact that everyone that was in room 2121 for the past 8 weeks is capable of greatness. I look into the eyes of the girls I spent the last few weeks with and I can see a will to do better and to learn more. I see a passion. Passion for widely diverse things, but a shared passion is a will to change the future and to make it a better one for both them self and every other extremely capable young woman in the room.

Capability between the sexes has always been a topic of great debate, one that, until late, men have dominated. The facts stand clear: too small of a percentage of the computer science industry is women. I have personally seen that this is not a problem of capability, but rather of perception. Years of hearing phrases like "run like a girl", or "only girls cry" or "wow, someone's PMS-ing" could have lead a woman to have this doubt stuck in her head that she doesn't belong. Men could see a woman in their office, potentially a rare sight, and doubt her capabilities or her strength, and question how she got the position. This is not the fault of any one individual; it is in fact the crime of an entire society: a society that has led us to believe that a human should be judged based on shallow things, as opposed to their merit. I believe that no one should be treated unequally based on their sex, gender, color of skin, or sexuality.

Every little girl and even the big girls in the audience should know that progress is made every single day for women in tech. Don't discount technology as a viable field for your career because you don't see another woman in it. BE that woman. With that in mind, however, I'd like to stress the fact that I'm not a woman engineer. I'm an engineer. Actually, I'm not an engineer at all, but I'm workin' on that. But at the end of the day, it is a person and computer battling out over bugs and code implementation and understanding. It doesn't matter what sexual organs the person has, because all they need is a functioning brain, and I know girls in this program have highly intelligent ones.

I know that among us, there are artists and musicians and biologists and fashion designers. There are gamers and authors and bakers. Over the past 8 weeks, every unique mind came together to help the next one understand the zeroes and ones of binary, the meticulous spacing in Python, and the methodology behind coding 2048. Our two TA's were so patient and our teacher so informative, but the majority of our learning came from the 19 other radically different girls in the room. And all of us girls - every single one of us -  We are all capable of succeeding as computer scientists if we so choose to put our minds to it. We are curious and passionate. We are eager. We are probably the future of corporate America. We are girls.

We are girls who can. We are girls who will. We are girls who code.

Thank you.

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