Girls Who Code Introduces Technology, Builds Bonds


As they snacked on Cheetos and Oreo cookies, students logged into Scratch and coded animation to characters in the Wizard’s Wish clicker game with guidance from ArcBest Tech volunteers.

Girls Who Code is an international nonprofit organization that aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science. Its mission is to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does. Middle school club members build coding skills and community as they complete coding projects.

Audrina Phoumivong, 8th, joined Girls Who Code because she has loved coding since 4th grade when she did Tech Club and worked on robots.

“I love how I got to code my own games,” Audrina said.

Xavionna Griffin, 7th, also liked coding games.

“You can create whatever you imagine and then share your projects with other students to encourage them to code,” Xavionna said.

Even though the group is called “Girls Who Code,” it was opened up to boys as well.

“The thing that inspired me to join was being able to learn how to use coding in real life,” Brandon Diaz Padron, 8th, said. “I enjoyed having fun and interacting with other people, even though I was the only boy.”

Elaine Hays liked making new friends, being social, and expanding her knowledge.

“If I didn’t understand something, I asked more questions,” Elaine said.
Each after-school meeting started with an Ice Breaker activity to encourage bonding amongst the students. Before working on the coding project, they watched a video of women in tech careers.

Maria Polanco, 8th, enjoyed playing games and talking with classmates about their lives.

“Bonding with each other made Girls Who Code fun,” Maria said. “The first time I did a coding activity, I fell in love with it.”

Jameriah Releford, 8th, loved creating new bonds.

“I just liked getting to know new people and figure out who they are,” Jameriah said.

Learning new coding skills and understanding what coding is used for and how to use it were Leah Facio’s favorite part of Girls Who Code.

“I learned that coding can be used in Math and Science,” Leah said.

Blaiklea Young, 8th, had been on the Sphero team in elementary school and enjoyed coding with her fellow Lady Raider Basketball players.

“We got closer, had a good time, and made memories,” Blaiklea said.

Like Blaiklea, Derieona Johnson learned coding in 4th grade. She appreciated getting help from the ArkBest Tech volunteers when she attempted tasks she had never done before.

“I joined Girls Who Code because I wanted to digitally build things,” Derieona said.

Kayla Marcotte of ArcBest Technologies sees the value in bringing Girls Who Code to middle schoolers.

“I didn’t have this opportunity as a child, and it would have helped me figure out a career path,” Ms. Marcotte said. “It would have helped me figure out a career.”

Ms. Marcotte acknowledged that being a female in Information Technology (IT) has definitely had its struggles.

“I have had great mentors over the years, and I hope to be that for these girls and boys who have joined,” Ms. Marcotte said. “Women are vastly underrepresented in IT. I am passionate about getting girls exposed and giving them the boost of confidence they need to help them realize they can be good at it as well.”