Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani will deliver the address at Scripps College’s 87th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 13, 2017.
Saujani founded Girls Who Code in 2012 as a national nonprofit organization to help close the gender gap in technology by equipping young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities. Saujani is also the author of the book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and charting one’s own course, personally and professionally.
“Saujani is inspiring and passionate about issues that matter to our young women. I am delighted that she will join us for commencement and eagerly anticipate her address to the Class of 2017,” Scripps College President Lara Tiedens said.
Saujani began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she entered the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. She has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School.
“I believe deeply that supporting young girls to be courageous and to learn to program are two important traits needed to move us as a society forward,” Saujani says. “I am delighted to speak to Scripps College Class of 2017 students who stand at the intersection of liberal arts and technology, and who have demonstrated their courage as change makers on campus, in their communities, and in their respective paths in life as they graduate.”
Meagan McIntyre, a Scripps College senior class representative, noted her class’s reciprocal interest in Saujani as their commencement speaker. “As an influential woman in the technology industry with a commitment to promoting STEM education for girls, Reshma Saujani is an inspiration not only to Scripps’ Class of 2017, but to women everywhere,” McIntyre said.
“With her leadership in promoting gender equity as well as her courage to take risks, Reshma embodies the integrity and idealism that our community values. We are honored and very excited to have her speak at our commencement.”
Saujani has been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, a Wall Street Journal Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC’s Next List, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, and Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World.
In pointing out that the Scripps selection process may be different than other similar institutions, McIntyre explained that Scripps students reviewed commencement speaker suggestions and input received from over half of their graduation class beginning early in their junior year. The committee compiled a list of about 20 potential speakers and surveyed the entire class on their preferences and top choices. “The selection process is centered on students and strives to find a speaker that captures the values the Class of 2017 shares,” McIntyre said.