BlackGirlsCODE has ignited a global STEM movement to empower girls of color to engage technology. Each vote gets them closer to winning a $50,000 grant to expand their mission across the globe.
By Karen-Michelle Mirko (Parent, BlackGirlsCode Student)

We all hear the cries for a technical co-founder and the horror stories from startups when they outsource their tech build. BlackGirlsCODE is building the pipeline of the next generation of tech-savvy female founders and CTOs.

My daughter and I recently attended their workshop in NYC and this is advice for non-technical co-founders that I picked up.

#1 – You can learn technical skills.

Really, you can. There is this myth that there are technical people and non-technical people. If you are non-technical, anything coding related is beyond you. It is not. Code is a set of patterns and rules. We have been taught how to work within rules since learning basic math. 1+2=3 but 1*2=2. Since the rules do not change, you can always refer back to the list of rules. Make your own flash cards!

When my daughter and I attended BlackGirlsCODE’s “Build a Website in a day” workshop, she did build a website! It was that easy. But don’t just trust the ten year old. Soo-Jin Kim, founder of Inclued, learned how to code at night while doing marketing at the Fortune 100 during the day. While she did not build the entire site (isn’t it gorgeous!), she coded enough to launch the beta.

#2 – Having a community helps you build your technical skills.

Do I even need to say that on Women 2.0? The “Build a Website in a day” workshop was all about group learning. There was a volunteer/ student ratio of 1:2. The girls broke out into teams to solve coding problems. When they got stuck on building their website, the girls turned to their neighbor and asked for help. There are a gazillion Meetups across America. It seems like half of them focus on technology. Join one. Meet people. Learn more.

Kids need this community too. My daughter attended a tech camp this summer and she was one of 3 girls of color in a class of 30. While she did well and easily made friends in that tech camp, she loved BlackGirlsCODE workshop because the whole class was a reflection of herself.

#3 – Learning builds your technical self-confidence.

I know. You are a co-founder so you have a lot of self-confidence already. But when you pitch and the investors asks about your technology platform and why you chose Ruby on Rails, how do you sound? At the beginning of the workshop, the girls were slow to raise their hands and answer questions. By the end on of the workshop, when they were asked who wanted to present their website on stage to all of the parents, all of their hands shot up. The next day, my daughter called all of her friends and made them look at her website. She was that excited, proud and confident.

Please vote for BlackGirlsCODE.

BlackGirlsCODE is one of three finalists nominated for a $50,000 grant by Bank of the West’s Philanthropy Awards 2012 for their innovative approach to empowering girls from underrepresented communities to pursue career ambitions in an array of STEM-related fields.

Vote for BlackGirlsCode on Facebook to help them secure the grant and continue to grow their movement and take BlackGirlsCode to more cities. The voting process for Bank of the West’s Philanthropy Awards 2012 is open now and will close on Wednesday, October 31, 2012. Please note that you cannot vote on a mobile phone or iPad.

Women 2.0 readers: What tech tips or life lessons have you learned from kids? Let us know in the comments.

About the guest blogger: Karen-Michelle Mirko is a parent of a BlackGirlsCODE student. She is a B2B marketing and communications enthusiast and an award-winning subject matter expert on small businesses and startups. Karen-Michelle is determined to change the ratio and increase the number of female founders starting and growing successful businesses. Follow her on Twitter at @KMMirko.