Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re continuing our discussion with guests from the Admin Keynote at Dreamforce. We’re talking with Bindu Jallabah, Operations Director of Girl Develop It.
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You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Bindu Jallabah.
Making a Pivot to Engineering
Like many children of immigrants, Bindu’s parents pushed her to be a doctor or a lawyer. She got through a bunch of prerequisites before she realized that she hated blood, giving shots, and pretty anything you’d need to do in order to be a good doctor. “The doctors have to chase me down even to this day to give me a shot,” Bindu says. With all of the math courses she had taken, however, she realized that it would be relatively easy to transition to Engineering.
As Bindu began to gain experience, however, she encountered persistent problems. “Engineering was not conducive to me as far as the environment and how women are treated in the field,” Bindu says. She ran into difficulties as a woman, as a mom, and just as someone trying to fit into the community. “I had to take a break from engineering and go into social service.”
Focusing on the Real Problem
Bindu started a nonprofit, Karanso Africa, which initially was created to teach women literacy skills. “But when I got there, I realized it’s way beyond just literacy. In Africa, it’s way beyond just literacy— you can teach women how to read and write, but they’re not going to come to the classes because there are so many other issues there.” In looking at health and gender equity problems and starting to do that work, she realized that technology could do a lot to help.
“I started this program called Docteur Mobile where we wanted to let women in remote villages use an app to access preventive prenatal care.” They found that many women were dying from preventable conditions, especially preeclampsia and eclampsia, so their goal was to develop a program to teach them to take their own blood pressure and report it to a doctor via the app, even if they’re illiterate.
The Power of Girl Develop It
Bindu returned to the US to get the technical skills she needed, which is where she encountered Girl Develop It. “Girl Develop It took all of my passions and merged them. It took the technology piece and the social justice piece and the gender equity and merged them so perfectly,” Bindu says.
At its core, Girl Develop It teaches women how to code for web and software develop. “But beyond that, in the digital age, I like to say that Girl Develop It is a revolution,” Bindu says, because it teaches skills “that women are going to use in this century to be front and center of the technology program. They do that by teaching skills, but also by consciously cultivating a community. It started in 2010 in New York City and has grown from a single class to 58 chapters across the country and 98,000 members.
The program doesn’t end with just a few classes— it’s about developing a pathway to leadership. You can come back and TA, and then once you’ve assisted you can teach that class. From there, you can become an instructor or even a Girl Develop It chapter leader. As Bindu says, “we’re not just teaching women how to code, we’re also teaching women to elevate themselves in the tech industry.”
Live from the Dreamforce Stage
Bindu’s main takeaway from Dreamforce was the amazing strength of the community. “I have to say I gained new respect for Salesforce as an organization, being in technology and being a woman of color. Salesforce’s commitment to equity and diversity was totally apparent in everything that was happening there.”
It was Bindu’s first Dreamforce and she shared a stage in conversation with Parker Harris. “I have to ask you guys, when do you get off the Dreamforce high? Because I’m still on it.”
For more insights, make sure to follow Bindu on Twitter (@its_bindu).
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