Aiming for 1 million "Girls Who Code"

Women represent 12 percent of all computer science graduates, a drop from 37 percent in 1984
Women represent 12 percent of all computer sc... 04:20

President Obama was the first Commander-in-Chief to write a line of computer code, after learning the basics of JavaScript on Monday. The lesson put him among the ranks of some 53 million students who "coded" somewhere in the world during the past year.

But right now, women only represent 12 percent of all computer science graduates -- a drop from 37 percent in 1984. One woman is on a mission to change those numbers and get more than a million girls to code over the next 10 years, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.

"I turn on the television and I see no girls who look like me that are coders or hackers or engineers, and girls are watching and they're listening, and they're saying, 'You know what? I'm gonna opt-out.'" recalled Reshma Saujani, founder of "Girls Who Code."

Andrea Gonzales, 16, and Sophie Houser, 17, c... 03:16

She said to change that, technology has to be cool -- and the work, fun.

Saujani visited a Girls Who Code club in Harlem, where students are learning to create their own video games, where she told CBS News that her reasons for spreading the gospel of coding and promoting the skill set are simple.

"You can actually lift an entire generation out of poverty through learning computer science and put these young girls on a track to making six figure salaries," Saujani said.

She is counting on that "eureka moment" to inspire these girls, so they can control and create a digital world and overcome the biggest hurdles of all; self-doubt and the cultural stereotype that girls aren't good at math or science.

"You would never say, 'I can't read.' That's just unacceptable in society," Saujani said. "But it's acceptable in society for a girl to say, 'I hate math or I'm not good at math.'"

There are more than 150 Girls Who Code clubs across the country that teach robotics, web design and mobile development.

"What makes it interesting is, like, you are the one creating the game now, you're not just sitting there playing the game," said 17-year-old Aisha Soumaoro, who is enrolled in the club at Democracy Prep High School.

Saujani pointed to a cultural phenomenon driving the trend.

"We couldn't live without our devices, we couldn't live without Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. This is how we communicate; this is how we create," she said. "We're the majority in the workforce, we're the majority in college, we're majority bread winners. How could we be left out of innovating?"

Some of the top tech companies in the world, like Facebook, AT&T and Twitter, have all invested in Girls Who Code.

Twitter's CEO, Dick Costolo is one of Saujani's biggest champions.

"Reshma, of course, first and foremost, has just done wonderful, wonderful things for this organization, they lead from the front, they practice what they preach," Costolo said. "They are at all of the events, they are there early, and they are the last ones to leave, so I have nothing but great things to say about all of them."

By 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million job openings for computer specialists, and Saujani's students are gearing up for the future.

"You don't have to be super smart to be a part of coding. It's not about math or science, it's about trying to figure out how to solve a problem," Girls Who Code student Jourdan Fraser said.

Saujani is certain this education will help girls land some of those jobs.

"I don't care if you want to be Beyoncé or Hillary Clinton, you got to learn how to code," Saujani said. "If you want to be a veterinarian, if you want to be a doctor, if you want to be a ballerina, technology is critical to whatever you create or build, so learn, learn how to code."

There are already nearly 3,000 alumni of Girls Who Code in 23 states nationwide -- still some distance from her goal of one million students.

But with the help of Girls Who Code's network of supporters, Saujani hopes to make that number grow steadily each year.