Difference Makers: East Bay teen provides free coding lessons for girls

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An East Bay teen is helping young people develop the skills they need to enter a career in computer science.

Juliette Palacios, a 16-year-old student at Piedmont High School, formed the non-profit Computing Minds as a way to reac​h girls who may be intimidated by a male-dominated industry.

"I’ve noticed that it’s kind of a bro culture. I found that a lot of people are told you can be a teacher or a receptionist, but it’s not told enough that you can go into computer science," Palacios said.

Computing Minds provides free virtual sessions for girl ages nine to 12 years old. The goal is to help close the digital divide.

"One of the projects that the girls really like is our obstacle course project where they code a little character on the screen to move around and go through obstacle courses that they create," she said.

Because the coding programs are based online, Palacios said they’re able to reach more people across the region.

"Currently, I teach around 30 girls in smaller groups of around five to 10, but we are looking to expand to teach bigger groups soon," Palacios said.

At the end of the day, she wants girls to feel like they can build a career for themselves, change the dynamic in the industry and also support one another.

"It’s just so important for girls everywhere to realize that they can pursue this career. It just has to be made known a little bit more," she said.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Radio Difference Maker, email us at differencemaker@kcbsradio.com.