No. 20: Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
Photograph by Marla Aufmuth—TED
By Valentina Zarya
March 7, 2016

A few weeks ago, Reshma Saujani received a standing ovation for her TED talk in Vancouver, Canada. On Monday, Fortune brings you an exclusive online look at her speech.

Today, Saujani is best known as the founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to initiate young women into the tech world. So far, the nonprofit has helped place 10,000 high school girls into programs where they learn how to code, develop mobile apps, and receive mentoring from women in engineering at companies like Facebook (fb) and Goldman Sachs (gs). She also managed to raise $16 million from corporations to support her mission.

By most measures, including Fortune‘s 2015 40 Under 40 ranking, Saujani is a huge success. But at the same time, as she admits in an interview with Fortune, she is a “walking failure of not being able to accomplish [her] dream.”

Saujani is referring to her two failed attempts to run for public office: first for the House of Representatives, then for the office of New York City Public Advocate.

Yet the former financier didn’t let her failure determine her future, and she now wants other women to do the same: “I want women to be comfortable with being imperfect,” she says. “I immediately see how girls are afraid to try things that they won’t be good in. And women stay with the things they’re good at even if that’s not what they’re put on this earth to do.”

Saujani wants people to reconsider how they are teaching young girls and the expectations that they be “perfect, and pretty, and nice,” while boys are expected to be “tough, and brave and strong.”

If we equalize those expectations, Saujani argues, by encouraging girls to take risks, then we “will raise a generation of women that is fierce.”

Watch the full TED talk here.


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