Thanks to the video from this week showing an 8th grader teaching President Barack Obama how to write his first line of code, you might have heard of the Hour of Code. This is just the latest in a long line of initiatives spearheaded by Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.
As part of this week’s “Hour of Code” event, I’m honored to say that Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih will be joining tech titans Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Gates, and others in 15-minute video Q&As with 100 classrooms across the United States, including Pawcatuck Middle School in Stonington, CT, Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, St Francis High School in Traverse City, MI, Cooper High School in Union, KY, Concord High School in Staten Island, NY, Perry-Lecompton Middle School in Perry, KS, and Houck Middle School in Salem, OR.
Watch Clara and her fellow thought leaders in the webchat at the bottom of the post. And here are some thoughts Clara will be sharing:
If an 8th grade girl thinks she might be interested in computer science, where would you tell her to start?
It’d be the same for girl or boy:
- Make sure you have a strong math, science, and general academic foundation.
- Start coding. It’s easy to start with Web programming and HTML.
- Attend summer camp, which is valuable even if you don’t end up doing computer science, which is becoming as foundational in life as reading or writing.
I am a girl and a nerd who is interested in computer programming. Who inspired you and were any of these mentors female?
- Ada Lovelace (one of the world’s first computer programmers)
- Grace Hopper (invented the first compiler for a computer programming language)
- Anita Borg (computer scientist who developed the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology)
- Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo! and Google’s first female engineer)
- Bill Gates (co-founder and former CEO and chairman of Microsoft).
What would you consider “key” decisions you made or crossroads you encountered to get to where you are today?
Think entrepreneurially. The best jobs of 10 years ago aren’t the best jobs of today or certainly 10 years from now. The most important thing you can do is build a solid foundation, learn how to think for yourself, and then be opportunistic.
In your opinion, what is the most influential social media platform out there today and why?
Social media has become so widespread that it’s basically impossible to answer that question, like answering what’s the most influential Web app. There are too many. Social has come to occupy different parts of our lives, from professional to family and friends to romantic to quick messaging utility. Aside from the obvious big three, Pinterest, Instagram, and WhatsApp are also very interesting to me.
As new social media platforms pop up everyday, how does Hearsay Social stay on top of trends and change accordingly?
We download and try everything. It helps to be based in Silicon Valley, because we live and breathe technology here.