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Home » Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection: Reshma Saujani (Transcript)

Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection: Reshma Saujani (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Reshma Saujani’s talk titled “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection” at TED2016 conference.

CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani’s talk, “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection,” shares her personal journey of running for Congress, emphasizing the importance of bravery over striving for perfection. She highlights the societal conditioning that encourages girls to avoid risk and aim for perfection, contrasting this with the encouragement boys receive to take risks.

Saujani discusses the consequences of this conditioning, including women’s underrepresentation in STEM fields, leadership positions, and their reluctance to apply for jobs unless they meet all qualifications. Through founding Girls Who Code, she aims to socialize girls to embrace bravery and imperfection by teaching them coding, a skill that inherently involves trial, error, and persistence. The program has seen significant growth, teaching 40,000 girls across all 50 states, and aims to address the gender gap in technology.

Saujani’s vision extends beyond coding, advocating for a cultural shift to empower young women to be courageous and accept imperfection. Her powerful message calls for a collective effort to build a society where girls are raised to be brave, not perfect, impacting future generations and industries.

Listen to the audio version here:


So a few years ago, I did something really brave, or some would say really stupid. I ran for Congress. For years, I had existed safely behind the scenes in politics as a fundraiser, as an organizer, but in my heart, I always wanted to run. The sitting congresswoman had been in my district since 1992. She had never lost a race, and no one had really even run against her in a Democratic primary. But in my mind, this was my way to make a difference, to disrupt the status quo.

The polls, however, told a very different story. My pollsters told me that I was crazy to run, that there was no way that I could win. But I ran anyway, and in 2012, I became an upstart in a New York City congressional race. I swore I was going to win. I had the endorsement from the New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal snapped pictures of me on election day, and CNBC called it one of the hottest races in the country. I raised money from everyone I knew, including Indian aunties that were just so happy an Indian girl was running.

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