“Who hack the world? GIRLS!” displays the website of #BBG, an organization that gives girls a leg-up in tech careers, and encourages them to be “the protagonists in their own lives” whilst lessening the massive gender gap in one of society’s rising industries. #BUILTBYGIRLS visits cool tech companies, prepares girls for their internships and connects young women with mentors. This is a club for the next generation of leaders in technology—a club that embeds young women in tech from the earliest stages.

Founded in 2014, the New York-based organization helps girls ages 15-18 get involved in technology. It helps them learn about career opportunities and get the training necessary to pursue their career dreams. In fact, it’s working. A massive 92% of the #BBG girls claim to feel more confident to be a leader after completing the program. 90% feel more determined to work in tech, and 88% are more positive about pursuing careers in business.

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Girls who fund

Nowadays, less than 10% of venture funding going to female founders and only 4$ of VC (venture capital) decision makers being women. No wonder it’s quite an intimidating, male-dominated industry to work in for women. So,  #BUILTBYGIRLS came up with Girls Who Fund.

Girls Who Fund is an internship showcasing high school girls what it takes to be a startup founder and investor. The program has developed from BBG Ventures, that addresses the need for more women in the startup scene. It’s an early-stage seed fund investing in consumer tech startups with at least one female founder.

Undoubtedly, Girls Who Fund is the best experience possible for young women who wish to enter the startup scene. College-bound girls spend four weeks in NYC for an apprenticeship with BBG Ventures. The program includes learning the basics of running a startup, diving into the fundamentals of VC, meeting some of the best founders and VCs in the business, and participating in real pitch meetings.

All these girls have such energy and such passion, and no two girls are the same. It’s really a beautiful thing when you step back and the girls meet each other and come up with so many different ideas because there are so many kinds of girls and so many kinds of interests. I think that’s really what makes #BBG so great. You don’t have to have experience, you just have to want to learn and the second that they’re put in that position of learning, magical things happen.

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Wave

A new program called Wave is a year-long training that will pair 150 girls with three advisors from different companies like Giphy, Uber, and Bustle. The aim is to change the “boy’s club” of tech and help qualified young women enter the workforce. Wave matches the girls with professionals who are killing it in a range of industries.  Each couple meets once a month to have a chat in person.

Tere is also a mobile app, that guides meetings between mentors and girls. It provides profile information and facilitates conversations about everything from how to send a professional email to how to develop viable products. In addition, every pair has an opportunity to collaborate on solving a hypothetical business challenge, whether it’s an opening of a new branch or rolling out a new product for the mentor’s company.

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By the end of the third month, the mentor introduces the girl to two relevant people from their network, helping to grow the teen’s own network in the process. Nowadays, a significant number of tech positions are filled through employee referrals. So, building their network early on, these girls are actually getting their foot in the door of the club. They’re also learning some basic skills and developing a good understanding of an industry that will put them a few steps ahead of the competition.

Just recently Wave has officially launched in beta with its first group of girls. In order to participate, they need to live in the New York City area. Teens can already apply on the company’s website to join the next batch. “The way that we see this is that by 2020 we would have 20,000 girls participating with more than 90,000 connections,” shares Tory Marlin, director of marketing and partnerships.

 

#BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge

#BUILTBYGIRLS Challenge is a pitch competition for tech products built by girls, judged by girls. Young women ages 15-18 with an interest in tech can submit to win the opportunity to pitch their project in front of investors and tech influencers during a live Pitch Day in San Francisco. Challenge winners receive $10K in funding and mentorship to take their project to the next level, plus the chance to demo on the floor of Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt. Indeed, the program doesn’t necessarily end with the finals. The contacts girls make are just as important.

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Last year, the challenge offered two tracks. The first track, called Future Founders, is for girls with some knowledge of technology. It required applicants to have designs, lines of code, or a working prototype of their idea for a mobile app, hardware device, robotics project, or research. In fact, the Challenge focuses not only on tech side but also pushes girls to think critically about their ideas in terms of a business

The second one, Let Girls Build track, that worked in collaboration with Citizen AOL and Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative. This track doesn’t imply a background in coding. The only thing required is a well-thought-out concept that uses technology to improve access to girls’ education around the world, potentially combatting issues that prevent girls in developing regions from attending school, like self-esteem and confidence, feminine health, and local gender norms.

The last year finalists’ ideas included an app for early and accurate Parkinson’s disease detection, a diagnostic helmet that detects head injuries in athletes, an iOS application that turns wasted farm produce into usable food, and an app that pings nearby users in the event of a sexual assault on a college campus.

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The Hashtag

The Hashtag is an event series offering an inside look at how the hottest tech companies create powerful products. Each month, high school and college women join #BBG at a different company to learn more about how technology drives brands we love. They showcase how tangible tech can be through panels, workshops and networking activities and explore the endless possibilities for a career in tech in any industry. So far they have visited Snapchat, BuzzFeed, LinkedIn, Thinx, OkCupid, Broadway, and more.

For example, in an exclusive, #BUILTBYGIRLS-only tour of IBM Watson, 37 teen girls spent quality time with Robot Pepper. They heard from IBMers who handle everything from Watson programming to social media — and got a sense for how all roles rely on an understanding of the very cool technology. Another The Hashtag event brought 45 high school girls to the New York Spotify office, where they took over both the playlist and the product. Having some help from the expert Spotify mobile dev team, the girls came up with a bunch of ideas for making the app better.

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