Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani on why bravery matters for girls and women

Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani explains how bravery is the key to our daughter’s successful futures. 

Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani on why bravery matters for girls and women

I struggled to raise my hand in class, even when I was 100% sure I had the right answer.

At the mere thought of raising my hand, my stomach would tighten while my heart pounded so loudly I would swear my classmates could hear it.

I’d silently practice what I wanted to say out loud, but I’d never have the guts to say it.

This continued throughout high school, college, and eventually in the office. So many good ideas were left unsaid during meetings because of fear—fear of making a mistake, of being wrong, of being embarrassed, of not being perfect.

And now as a new mama to two little girls, I so desperately, whole-heartedly do not want that for my daughters.

And luckily, neither does Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and author of Women Who Don’t Wait In Line

Reshma recently gave an inspiring TED Talk about teaching girls bravery instead of perfection which (not surprsingly!) quickly gained over 750,000 views. We got to chat with the brilliant attorney, activist, and women’s leadership advocate Reshma on all things bravery: for us, for our daughters, and for our economy.

So how do we teach our daughters to be brave, instead of perfect? (Who needs perfection, anyway?)

We spoke to Reshma about how we can cultivate bravery in our daughters—and ourselves.

On the risks women and girls need to take—

Reshma told Motherly: “I’m enormously regretful of being so risk-averse early on in my career. I stayed in jobs I hated for far too long because I was afraid of the uncertainty that came with leaving. I was afraid of failing and afraid of disappointing my family.

“I was 32 when I ran for Congress. I say this because we’re taught it’s ok to take these big career leaps when we’re in our 20s, but we cast an unfavorable light on those who take big risks later on in their careers or when they start families.”

“Yes I lost the campaign but out of it came Girls Who Code. If I hadn’t taken that leap I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope through sharing my failure stories I can show women of all ages it’s never too late to follow your dreams.”

On opt-ing in to risk—

In Reshma’s TED talk she explains that when it comes to applying for jobs, men will apply for roles where they meet 60% of the qualifications—whereas women will only apply if they meet 100%.

Reshma told Motherly: “Those stats are really eye-opening. There were so many times I didn’t apply for a job I really wanted because they asked for a specific skill or expertise I didn’t have. Yet how realistic is it they we can check every box? You can also think of it this way: If you are able to check every box, what do you left to learn? I think this desire to make sure something is a ‘sure thing’ before we even try has caused us to be so overly cautious. It causes us to miss out on opportunities for real growth.”

Join Motherly

On cultivating bravery—

Reshma: “I think it’s important to see bravery as something not outside of our girls but something that can be cultivated within them.”

“It’s so important to encourage girls to take risks (however small at first!) early on. As parents it’s our role to nurture her adventurousness and exploration in her day-to-day, and reward her for taking risks in the same way we reward her for being ‘good’. Allowing girls to explore new interests in their own time is really important.”

On teaching your children by your own actions—

Reshma: “We know as parents and caretakers we play a huge role in how we shape our kids’ values and outlooks. An obvious way would be to encourage our girls to take on the same risks we encourage in our boys, and to reward hard work in the same way we reward accomplishments. But let’s not forget that so much of what our kids’ learn is through observation. Kids are always listening, watching, and they pick up on subtle cues about what’s acceptable and unacceptable.”

“We have an amazing opportunity to teach our girls to accept imperfection by encouraging and embracing it in our own lives.”

On why we should praise bravery—

Even if as women we have been “socialized to be perfect,” Reshma explains, now is our time to change that within ourselves. To throw perfection out the window and explicitly model bravery for our daughters.

Reshma: “Awareness is the first step. Noticing how we’re encouraging our girls to play it safe rather than being bold and courageous is powerful. Adjusting our behavior accordingly is the next step. It’s about finding the right balance between making sure our kids feel safe and supported and giving them the space they need to explore, fail, and get back up again.”

“As parents we’re hardwired to want to step in and protect at all costs. It requires not just a lot of patience but living with a certain amount of discomfort.”

“But know that that patience and discomfort is an investment into your child’s future. And the future of our economy.”

So when can our daughters start learning to code with Reshma?

Reshma: “When it comes down to it, coding is all about building and problem-solving. There are tons of resources for kids as young as 1-2. We’re big fans of GoldieBlox. It’s never too early to start introducing girls to these resources, developing skills that will help them in life whether they decide to pursue computer science or not. Our Girls Who Code Clubs program teaches girls beginning 6th grade, when girls’ interests in math and science begins to drop off.”

As Reshma explains in her TED Talk, “Those 600,000 jobs that are open right now in computing and tech? Women are being left behind. And it means our economy is being left behind on all the innovation and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave, instead of socialized to be perfect. For the American economy, for any economy to grow—to truly innovate—we cannot leave behind half our population. We have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfection, and we’ve got to do it now.”

So let’s not wait for our daughters to figure this out themselves. Let’s teach them together; let’s show them the way. Raise your hand. Speak up. Apply for that job. Build startups. Push boundaries. Take risks. Go outside your comfort zone. Big, great, amazing things are going to happen. ?

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Programs and Clubs, Girls Who Code is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

Started in 2012, the organization has grown to reach 10,000 girls in more than 40 states. In 2016, Girls Who Code will run more than 80 Summer Immersion Programs and 500 Clubs. The results speak for themselves: 90 percent of alumnae have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. Reshma has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and ran a spirited campaign for Public Advocate in 2013.

Reshma is the author of the groundbreaking new book, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line, in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She’s been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC’s Next List, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State’s Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

Join Motherly

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less