When Reshma Saujani approached General Electric and eBay about the possibility of joining her 'Girls Who Code' initiative, she couched her proposition in terms big business understands: It's good for your bottom line, because while the people using your products are women, the ones creating them aren't.
It's that kind of smart, incisive thinking that makes Ms. Saujani a creative problem-solver. The ex-deputy public advocate who made a run for Congress in 2010 is the founder of 'Girls Who Code,' a program that teaches the basics of technology and engineering to promising young women in New York. It takes off this summer, with more cities and more partnerships planned for 2013.
But it's about more than teaching girls to code and introducing them to a possible career in technology. Ms. Saujani says the movement has a broader mandate: to change cultural perceptions of technology as a career. "Girls tell me they want to be forensic scientists, maybe because they saw CSI," she says. "Engineering and technology needs that. We need to make coding cool." There's also another problem she needs to solve, that of finding qualified teachers that can actually lead classes on robotics, entrepreneurship or website design.
It's a tall order, but Ms. Saujani probably can handle it. This year, while working on Girls Who Code, the self-described "political entrepreneur," also penned a book (due to come out next May) about women and the glass ceiling and continued her support for the Dream Act and her work for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. And next year, she plans to explore taking part in the race to succeed her former boss, public advocate Bill de Blasio, to become the city's next watchdog. "Democracy in the public sector is the ultimate form of creative expression," she says. "Who is more creative than the founders of our country?"
See the rest of the 2012 Creativity 50 here.