Introducing: Villanova Girls Who Code


Girls Who Code

Professors in the College of Liberal Arts collaborate over DEI course ideas.

Julia Stanisci, Staff Writer

This spring, Villanova University welcomed a new club on campus: Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code is an expansive nonprofit organization which aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science by equipping them with the necessary computing skills to pursue careers and opportunities.

The Villanovan sat down with Caroline MacLaren, the student who decided to bring the organization to Villanova’s campus. MacLaren is a junior Computer Engineer in Villanova’s College of Engineering. 

MacLaren originally had the idea to bring girls who code to Villanova’s campus after the success she had at her high school during her senior year. She had already garnered experience with the club’s mission through working with middle school girls to promote an interest in tech and computer programming at a young age. At Villanova, she noticed the need for college women to really create a place to pursue such STEM and computer engineering-based endeavors. 

MacLaren acknowledged Villanova College of Engineering’s efforts towards closing the gender gap in STEM, but she noted that there is still a lot of work to be done in the classroom.

“Transitioning from an all girls-school to Nova, it was incredibly intimidating existing in a classroom of at least 75 percent boys,” MacLaren said. “I found myself scared to speak up and engage in class. I found myself questioning small things like how I dressed and where I sat as factors of whether or not I would be taken seriously. As time has gone on at Villanova, I’ve found myself more comfortable in the classroom and have found friends who have supported me in my major. However, I knew this wasn’t going to be true for everyone. So ultimately, my goal behind establishing Girls Who Code at Villanova was to create a safe and welcoming environment for girls to pursue technical endeavors in whatever form it may be. By establishing that space, girls can feel so much more encouraged and confident in the classroom. Also, by having this space, girls can pursue a variety of different interests by being in not only the comfort of their club on campus, but the 100,000 plus girls around the globe supporting them.”

  The Villanova chapter of Girls Who Code is a “College Loop” (the college program that Girls Who Code offers). A key mission of establishing a chapter on campus is that although there are other clubs specific to individual schools on promoting women in various fields, Girls Who Code is grounded in an interdisciplinary goal to bridge different majors of women interested in any form of computing, technology and engineering. The club has three main objectives: building sisterhood, building leadership and building careers. The Villanovan asked MacLaren about her hopes for the club.

“I definitely am looking forward to meeting all of the girls that have already expressed interest at our meeting this Monday, Jan 24,” MacLaren said. “Ultimately, it’s not about the number of girls that come but the impact that the girls that do come have.”

“I want them to truly feel encouraged and confident in the space we create. Additionally, we plan to achieve our goals by creating a mentorship program with undergraduate students and Villanova women in the field, inviting women to come and meet with our club members, and providing career and interview enrichment.”

Girls Who Code is still in the early stages of development, and most of its events will be happening at club meetings. It is looking to bring relevant women in the field to meet with members and share their experiences. It will also be doing a lot of technical interview prep events for career enrichment and overall coding events for any girls interested. 

You can reach out to [email protected] if interested. Membership is open to any female identifying students.