Yes, Girls Do Code—and Bianca Salomon is Making a Career Proving It

As a fashion designer, Bianca Salomon was building an e-commerce website for her new clothing line. She found the CMS she was working with pretty limiting—and wanted to learn more.

Most people in Bianca’s shoes would have read a book, or taken a workshop. Not Bianca. The designer embraces new topics wholeheartedly. So, after a bit of research, she joined the University of Miami Coding Boot Camp. She knew it was exactly what she needed.

Is tech a boy’s club?

With a recent emphasis on gender diversity in tech companies, the rise of organizations like  Girls Who Code, and more high-profile female tech execs in the news, everyone’s eye is on women in technology. And there’s quite a bit of catchup to do: women still make up less than 20 percent of U.S. tech jobs, even though they represent over half of the U.S. workforce.

Bianca didn’t know these precise statistics when she walked into the classroom. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, she was accustomed to learning in classrooms full of women. On day one of the boot camp, she recalls feeling thrilled and amazed by the switch in gender composition.

“Out of 30 people in the class, seven were female,” Bianca laughed. Bianca was intrigued: being in a majority-male classroom would give her new tools—and a new way of collaborating. She also wanted to know why the gap existed.

“It seems like technology just isn’t pushed for women,” she said. “It’s kind of like boys should like blue and girls should like pink. Men go into tech and women just don’t.”

In her research, Bianca came across Girls Who Code and learned about its mission to close the gender gap in technology. The programs empower young girls and women—as young as elementary school-aged—to prepare for a career in computer science.

Bianca was immediately inspired to get involved. (Evidently, she wasn’t busy enough running her e-commerce business, working as a marketing technologist, and attending boot camp.) She decided to volunteer with the organization as a teacher.

“I like doing multiple things,” she said. “I hadn’t even graduated boot camp yet, but I wanted to get involved. Now I teach a class of 18 young girls, showing them what’s possible in web development”

Opportunities abound

Bianca thrived with the fast-paced, immersive curriculum where front-end and back-end technologies challenged her in and out of the classroom. But she never dreamed she’d learn so much more than coding at boot camp. It ended up opening her mind to new opportunities. “I never thought I would teach at all, but I love it, and it’s given me even more confidence in myself,” she said.

Bianca is no stranger to trying new things. Having no prior coding experience at all, she found herself grappling with boot camp assignments at first—mostly because there was so much she didn’t know. That only led her to want to know more, so she took advantage of every form of support available.

“I was really dedicated to knowing every little thing,” she said. “I picked the brains of the TAs every single class, took tutoring sessions, and spent hours Googling to find resources.”

Even with the plethora of support, Bianca would encounter the occasional challenge—which ended up being her favorite part of the boot camp.

“Making errors is crucial to your learning,” she said. “But the feeling you get when you’re able to find an error and solve it is like nothing else. I think it’s great.”

Helping more girls learn to code

Bianca graduated coding boot camp in February and already has big plans for her future. You can find her volunteering as an instructor for the Girls Who Code after-school program at Barbara Hawkins Elementary School in Miami Gardens. She’s shaping the minds and sharpening the skills of 18-year-old girls who she says are intellectually curious and excited to learn.

“I get to show them what they can do with programming, and they see all the possibilities that are out there,” she said. And during the process, she’s discovered some new possibilities for herself.

Bianca will continue working with Girls Who Code as a TA for the 2019 summer immersion program and continue changing the stereotypical image of a programmer. She’ll also continue the design and launch of her fashion e-commerce site, and has high hopes to work in web development for a global agency full time.

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