Coding club helps open doors for girls

Even though women make up half the labor force, they are vastly outnumbered by men in the field of computer science.

“Even in large tech companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook, women make up a frighteningly small amount of the workforce. Women make up 30% of the workforce in Google, just 10% at Twitter, and 15% at Facebook,” said Wilton High School senior Ashley Li.

“By diversifying the tech workforce, new perspectives are brought in, creating new solutions for unknown problems. Girls represent an untapped resource of new innovations, solutions and creations that can change the world.”

That’s why, she said, Wilton Library’s new Girls Who Code Club is important.

The 13-week club, beginning Sunday, Feb. 21, is designed to inspire, educate and equip girls in grades six through 12 with 21st-Century computing skills. The program is part of the national Girls Who Code Club that offers project-based activities, such as mobile app, game and website creation, in a fun and creative environment.

After attending a seven-week summer Girls Who Code workshop in New York City, Ashley approached Wilton Library’s teen services manager, Susan Lauricella, and suggested the library form its own Girls Who Code Club.

During the summer workshop, Ashley said, she and about 20 other high school students spent the first five weeks of the workshop “learning various programming languages, such as Python and Java and HTML/CSS.”

During the sixth and seventh weeks, the students worked on final projects, said Ashley, whose team created a website called Paratus Prep ( “to help high school students through the college process.”

“Besides learning about coding, we also went on field trips to various tech offices like AOL, LinkedIn and Microsoft,” she said.

Ashley said the Girls Who Code program not only teaches girls how to code but also gives them “the confidence to believe that they, too, can change the world.” She will assist the program’s instructor, Sapna Dasarath, a software engineer with Norwalk-based global research firm FactSet who has a master's degree in computer science.

Lauricella said the club, which is currently full with five sixth graders, one seventh grader, two eighth graders, one ninth grader, one 11th grader and one 12th grader, will give girls “an environment that’s very comfortable to learn and explore.”

“If we were to offer just a coding class, it would probably be 90% boys and 10% girls and then they’re not going to speak up as much,” she said.

“I think girls in a group with other girls are far more comfortable and willing to explore.”

Information: or 203-762-3950.