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University Of Minnesota Senior Hopes To Inspire Girls To Get Into Coding

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's one of the most valuable skills a kid can have these days: coding computers to create technology.

It's mostly boys who choose coding as a profession. But a University of Minnesota computer science major is trying to flip the script.

Whether it's gaming, hacking or computers in general, it's been traditionally portrayed as a boys' world.

"This past spring I counted in one of my higher level classes and it was eight girls to 75 males," Anna Pedrick said. "And yeah, I've definitely gotten different murmurs of sexist remarks."

Pedrick is the daughter of a computer teacher and a software engineer. In high school, she too caught the bug.

"I think it was the adrenaline of a challenge in front of me," she said. "And then once you get it right, I always say its like a runner's high, where you're like, I'm on top of the world, I just figured this out."

It was then that she clicked with coding.

"The technical definition is instructions that you tell the computer to execute. But I know when I was learning how to code, I was like, what does that mean?" Pedrick said. "So I always look at examples that are in our daily lives, like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix. All of those applications need code to go get a post or the movie and then bring it to you as a user."

She went on to study computer science at the University of Minnesota. As she said, there aren't many girls in her midst.

Anna Pedrick
Anna Pedrick (credit: CBS)

As a senior, her new entrepreneurship got her thinking. So she and friends started a company named after Ada Lovelace, who was actually the first ever coder.

"Lovelace's mission is to redefine what a coder, who a coder is and I think with that, with a girl, changing their mind of, OK it's not these stereotypes that society casts onto girls of antisocial, male, sci-fi, nerdy," Pedrick said. "With changing those stereotypes, then along the way probably more girls will take interest."

They are running regular workshops at the U for middle school girls.

"To make it fun, we always play music. A lot of times we're playing Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber," Pedrick said.

So far the company is thriving as the girls are responding.

"Ninety percent of the girls in our workshop have said that they are interested in coding further," Pedrick said. "They are interested in learning more and want to learn more."

As Pedrick takes her first job with Target in the fall she plans to keep growing Lovelace, so her beloved industry can keep growing, too.

"A big thing I hope to come from this is if you really like something, go out and do it and chase it," she said.

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