Directors End of Year Letter
January 01, 2016
Well into its fourth year as a Stanford-based student organization, she++ is run by a passionate team of undergraduate women working to change Silicon Valley for our successors. We’ve seen the most influential technology companies proclaim their dedication to increasing their pitiful diversity statistics; we’ve been assured by countless recruiters that their company is committed to hiring more diverse engineers. At the same time, we have felt the stigma of the ‘diversity hire’ and followed as others have tried to battle its nuanced but crippling effects.
she++ works to empower underrepresented groups in technology by dismantling the negative stereotypes surrounding the industry. We work with high school and college students to help them experience firsthand how computer science is about problem-solving, impact, and the ability to harness the power of every-day technologies. she++ has begun its second year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and we welcome Jen Dulski and Mehran Sahami to our Board to join Jocelyn Goldfein and, of course, our co-founders, Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni. As we establish ourselves with a seasoned Board in addition to our student team, we are grounding and expanding our operations.
In April 2015, our annual #include Fellowship for high school students culminated with thirty talented fellows experiencing an all-expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley. Fellows this year started initiatives ranging from green tech campaigns to hackathons to coding camps for younger students that lack access to technology education. We are proud to see the #include community expand as this year’s group of over 150 high school participants begins to work on their projects not only with the help of their college mentors, but also with the support of past fellows.
Our 2015-2016 ambassadors come from all over the world -- ambassadors in Abu Dhabi, India, the UK, and the US have already kicked off events to strengthen the international she++ community. We are excited to see more events unfold and our global reach expand as our eleven ambitious ambassadors dive into 2016 with big plans to impact their local communities.
This year marked an exciting step for she++ as we launched the she++ Challenge, a call to action for students to share programs and technology they have created. Only a shift towards looking at the wide array of applications and the diverse range of people that are the creators, can we truly show that the stereotypes are untrue. By showcasing the personas of the challenge winners, we can make the underlying technology accessible and relatable. As a program without physical limitations, we hope that the she++ Challenge will grow our online presence and help us build a community across borders.
With the launch of the she++ Challenge, our widening international outreach with Ambassadors, and a growing #include community, 2015 marked an exhilarating year for our young non-profit. In a time where giant strides are already being made, issues surrounding the diversity of tech communities continually come to light. We look forward to seeing the changes that companies, organizations, and the public will effect for women in tech. It is empowering to see the movement growing, and we are so excited to work with the entire community to keep pushing for change.
Happy New Year!
Helen Hastings & Reynis Vazquez-Guzman