Code.org launched the first Hour of Code on the home page of Google, in every Apple Store, and had convinced the President to issue a speech about computer science and even eventually write a line of code himself showing that anyone can do it and giving the campaign global exposure
Alice Steinglass is the President of Code.org. The Seattle-based group and its teams build curriculum, tools and software to support introductory computer science classes for students from kindergarten through high school. It provides workshops and training programs, preparing tens of thousands of educators to teach the subject.
In addition, her team partners with education and software companies across the industry to run the Hour of Code – a global movement reaching 10’s of millions of students in over 180 countries. Hour of Code was a movement born from an idea that anyone can learn how to code, from the President of the USA to NBA professional basketball players and young primary and high school students. The idea led to e-campaign involving all sorts of influential tech companies, celebrities and business executives supporting the Hour of Code to get lots of people just trying one hour of coding, and have schools everywhere participate, during Computer Science Education Week. Code.org launched the first Hour of Code on the home page of Google, in every Apple Store, and had convinced the President to issue a speech about computer science and even eventually write a line of code himself showing that anyone can do it and giving the campaign global exposure.
Alice’s main goal is increasing diversity in computer science by giving every student the opportunity to learn computer science in school. Code.org has reached 29 million students with its computer science classes. Of those, 45 percent are female, 48 percent are minority students underrepresented in the tech sector and about half are low-income kids.
Prior to Code.org, Alice led various teams at Microsoft: she managed the PM team for the UX Platform on HoloLens, designed APIs and developer client libraries for Xbox 360, ran an ecosystem outreach and UX team for Windows and built project management tools.
Before she left Microsoft, she was the group program manager on HoloLens. In this role she spent her time focusing on how to build a UX platform, a user experience and a shell for placing holograms in space.
Alice’s biggest concern while working on these projects was the lack of diversity in the industry. She attended conferences that were 95% male and often there was not a single African American or Hispanic coder in the room. And, she’d find herself outside of work volunteering in the classroom teaching computer science. That is why she strongly believes in the need to increase diversity in tech. There are a lot of things that can be done to support women and minorities in the workplace and improve retention. But, the first problem is educational opportunity. If most African American students don’t even have the chance to study computer science, we’ll never see a balanced workplace in tech.
Code.org is making meaningful impact in this space – reaching millions of students. She believes that if just 1% of the middle school girls who’ve enrolled in Code.org’s class eventually majored in computer science, it would triple the number of women going into tech.
Code.org is looking at the problem of diversity and opportunity in tech from multiple angles. On one hand Code.org creates great tutorials and coding classes so students can learn how to code, but also helps teachers learn how to teach these classes. Because tech is such a new industry, most of the teachers today did not learn how to code or how the internet works as part of their education. Code.org creates professional development workshops to help give them the skills they need to teach computer science in their classes and works to support these teachers by partnering with school districts, raising awareness and gathering support for computer science curriculum at the district, state and national level.
As the head of the product, engineering and marketing teams, part of Alice’s job is to work on a day-to-day basis with engineers to make sure the code works, figure out what they are building next, determine how they’re going to build it – and who’s going to build it, and then test it and try it herself. She also looks at the website’s analytics to see who’s using their various tools, how they’re using it, what they’re clicking on and where they’re running into problems.
She also works with the education team, comprised of experts who have years of experience teaching and building curriculum and discusses things with this team like: Are the students learning what we are trying to teach them? Are the students having fun while they are learning it? What’s been effective in terms of teaching tools and what can we change to make it more effective? She also frequently meets with external partners in the education industry or companies who support Code.org mission.
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