From Code to Confidence: Empowering Girls to Own the Tech Landscape

Student submission by Ria Jobanputra

The digital revolution has swept across the globe, rewriting the rules of communication, education, and economic opportunity. Yet, a significant portion of the population remains stuck on the previous version – women. [1] They face barriers to accessing the technology that fuels this revolution, [2] creating an unfinished code that limits their potential.

This isn’t just a software glitch; it’s a critical error in the system. Technology, with its transformative potential, risks becoming a tool for further marginalization. [3] But what if the code could be recompiled?

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a comprehensive program for a brighter future. SDG 5, focused on gender equality, recognizes the vital role of technology and information communication technologies (ICTs) in empowering women.  However, achieving gender equality isn’t just fixing a single bug; it’s rewriting the entire code for a just and equitable world. By bridging the digital divide, we can ensure that women are not left behind in the digital revolution, but rather become active co-creators of a future that benefits all.


This initiative tackles the issue of access and gender stereotypes by providing girls in underserved communities with coding and design training using upcycled laptops and tablets.

Target Audience:

The program primarily targets underserved girls aged 10-18, aiming to overcome socioeconomic barriers by providing them with vital technology education and opportunities. Schools and community centres serve as secondary audiences, offering logistical support and incorporating the training into their existing programs.

Project Components:

First, partnering with electronics recycling organizations to collect and refurbish used laptops and tablets, ensuring a sustainable and cost-effective solution.  An engaging curriculum, specifically designed for girls and incorporating cultural relevance and creative problem-solving, ignites their interest in coding and design. Mentorship from female tech professionals and students provides crucial role models and guidance, [4] while dedicated “makerspaces” equipped with upcycled devices and materials offer a platform for hands-on learning and project creation.


Upcycling devices provides a sustainable and affordable way to bridge the accessibility gap, ensuring girls in underserved communities have the technology needed to learn. By specifically targeting girls, the program directly addresses the gender gap in STEM fields, fostering a new generation of female tech leaders.  The curriculum itself is designed to be creative and engaging, combining coding and design to allow girls to express themselves through technology.  The makerspaces create collaborative learning environments, nurturing teamwork, and problem-solving skills.  Finally, the entire program promotes sustainability by giving used devices a new life and reducing e-waste. 

Implementation Timeline (6 Years):

The first two years focus on building a strong foundation. Partnerships are forged with key players – electronics recyclers for upcycled devices, educational institutions for program integration, and tech companies for potential resources or mentorship. An engaging curriculum designed specifically for girls is developed and piloted with a smaller group to refine the approach. Years three and four see program expansion.  Funding is secured to reach multiple schools and community centres, while female tech professionals and students are recruited and trained as mentors.  The final two years aim for national impact and long-term sustainability.

Measurable Success:

The number of girls completing the coding and design training directly reflects program reach and completion rates.  However, the program goes beyond basic participation.  Surveys and interviews will assess the increase in girls’ interest and confidence in STEM fields, gauging the effectiveness of the program in igniting a passion for technology.  Engagement and practical application of skills will be  measured by the number of projects created within the makerspaces.  Ultimately, the program’s true success lies in its ability to empower girls for the future.  The number of graduates enrolled in tech-related higher education programs or starting tech-based ventures will track whether the program inspires girls to pursue long-term careers in technology.


Tech company partnerships would provide ongoing donations of upcycled devices and software licenses, reducing reliance on external funding. A curriculum licensing model would allow other institutions to replicate the program, expanding reach and generating revenue. Graduates would be encouraged to serve as mentors, creating a self-sustaining cycle of knowledge sharing for long-term impact.

In just six years, this initiative offers a powerful solution to bridge the digital divide and empower girls in underserved communities. By equipping them with upcycled devices and an engaging curriculum focused on coding and design, the program shatters stereotypes and ignites a passion for technology within them. This not only fosters their confidence but also paves the way for future careers in the tech sector, directly contributing to  UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4 and 5 – quality education and gender equality.

The program’s impact extends far beyond individual girls. When women and girls are actively involved in tech, they can contribute to creating user-friendly technology that addresses their needs.  This initiative serves as a stepping stone towards achieving the broader goals of the 2030 Agenda – a world where everyone has a chance to thrive.  Closing the gender gap in tech isn’t just about empowering women and girls; it’s about creating a better future for all.


  1. Catherine Ashcraft, B.M., Elizabeth Eger, Women in tech the facts. 2016: National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT).
  2. Gillian Ranson, W.J.R., GENDER, EARNINGS, AND PROPORTIONS OF WOMEN: Lessons from a High-Tech Occupation. Sage Journals, 1996. 10(2).
  3. Wajcman, J., FROM WOMEN AND TECHNOLOGY TO GENDERED TECHNOSCIENCE. Information, Communication & Society, 2007. 10(3).
  4. Dustin C. Read, P.J.F., Luke Juran, How do women maximize the value of mentorship? Insights from mentees, mentors, and industry professionals. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 2020.


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