Each year during Women’s History Month, we learn about the many women whose intelligence, bravery, and dedication changed the course of history. The stories of these iconic women of the past hold many important lessons for us. But we can’t forget that history never stops. That’s why we’re focusing this March on women who are making history right now in business, technology, science, politics, and culture.
Reshma Saujani is one of these women. A lawyer with a background in politics and activism, Reshma founded Girls Who Code, a non-profit whose mission is to fight the gender gap in computer science and support women and girls in the field.
Reshma spoke with us about her unexpected journey toward running a tech organization and letting perfection fall by the wayside.
EF: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a younger woman hoping to follow in your footsteps?
RS: The more often you choose bravery over perfection, the better. When we choose to be perfect, we limiting ourselves to doing only what we’re good at, to staying in our lane, to avoid taking chances. When we choose to be brave, we open ourselves up to taking risks, to speaking up, to embrace the things we might not be great at—but love doing anyway. Bravery brings success and, more importantly, it brings joy.
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EF: What has been the most important factor in your success?
RS: Choosing to be brave, not perfect! And that’s not just in my career—in my personal life too. It took me years to start talking publicly about my fertility struggles because, being bound up as so many women are in the perfection trap for so long, I was concerned about what those failed pregnancies said about me. Nowhere does the pressure on women to be perfect—to avoid failure—play out more prominently than as mothers, whether that role is potential or realized. By telling my story and talking about my experience, together with so many other women, we are pushing back on a standard of perfect that’s harmful to our health, our happiness and our success.
EF: Which of your achievements makes you most proud, to date?
RS: Being the CEO of Girls Who Code has been the most rewarding experience of my career. Our organization has reached 90,000 girls across the country and we’re still growing. I can see the change I’m making, the tangible impact we’re having on the lives of girls across the country and around the world. Our alumni are majoring in computer science at a rate 15 times the national average, and we are on track to close the gender gap in tech by 2027. It’s been the most rewarding journey of my professional life.
EF: How has your journey surprised you?
RS: I never thought I’d be the CEO of an organization teaching girls to code—I don’t even code! But I saw a problem that needed solving, and I went after it. Today, Girls Who Code is an international movement.
Want more? Follow along on Instagram as we share portraits of women making history right before our eyes, all month long.