Sunday, September 2, 2018

Charity Sunday: Girls Who Code – #femtech #GirlsWhoCode #mentoring #CharitySunday

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Welcome to another Charity Sunday! 

What’s the deal here? Once a month, I give you an introduction to a cause I think is worth supporting, plus an excerpt from one of my books (often related). Then, for every comment you leave, I donate one dollar to the charity of the month. So please – if you're here at the blog, don’t just read this silently! Take the time to comment at least briefly, and make a difference!

Today I am supporting Girls Who Code, a non-profit focused on increasing the technology literacy of females, helping them to acquire skills that improve their employment prospects as well as their self-esteem. My cause today is quite personal, since I’m a female techie myself. I’m fortunate I had the chance to learn programming, which has led to a challenging, fun and well-paying career.  

A lot of girls are discouraged from pursuing tech-related interests. The media tend to present the world of computers as a male domain. Most Silicon Valley companies are led by men and the dominant culture is pretty female hostile. Popular culture treats male nerds as genius superheros and female nerds as unattractive weirdos.

Actually, I wanted to support the Dharavi Diary project, which focuses on teaching girls in one of the worst slums in Mumbai, India. However, I couldn’t find any obvious way to donate. I’ll keep looking.

Another reason for choosing this charity today is that it’s very similar to one I created in my fiction. In The Gazillionaire and the Virgin, the awkward but brilliant hero Theo grew up in the slums of Los Angeles. Now a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, he has founded Code in the Hood to offer computer-related training and mentoring to slum kids, both male and female. My heroine Rachel, who’s an equally smart Silicon Valley entrepreneur, organizes a benefit cocktail party to solicit donations for Code in the Hood from her billionaire peers. Shy and socially uncomfortable, Theo’s reluctant to go along with her plan, but Rachel knows how much his pet charity means to him. Here's an excerpt that sets the scene:

I wait until the fundraiser’s all arranged before getting in touch. I don’t want to give him too much time to obsess about the prospect. I call him from home, about seven a.m. My spies have discovered he’s a morning person.

Um—hello?” His voice is a bit gravelly, but deeper and more sonorous than I’d remembered.

Hello Theo. This is Rachel Zelinsky.” Dont hang up, I think during the ten second pause that follows. Dont even consider it.

Oh—um... Hi, Rachel.”

So far so good. I wait for him to continue, but he’s silent.

How are you?” I prompt, finally.

Okay.” Two beats. “And you?”

I’m great. Busy, but that’s normal. Anyway, I’m calling about the fundraiser.”

Huh? What are you talking about?”

For Code in the Hood. Remember? I told you when we met I’d try to organize an event to raise more cash for your organization.”

Oh, yeah, right. I thought you were just being polite.”

I chuckle. “Not at all. As you’ll learn when you get to know me better, when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. So it’s all set, for seven tomorrow night, at the Computer Museum in Mountain View. I’ll pick you up around six. 1263 Redondo Palms Avenue, right?”

Ah—ach—what? No! No, I can’t, Rachel!” He sounds as though he’s choking. “Really—you don’t need me. I’m grateful, but—”

We most emphatically do need you, Theo. You’re the founder of CIH, its public face, the man behind its success. People want to meet you.”

Oh, God—what kind of people?” He’s breathing heavily, almost hyperventilating.

Rich people. People who want to give you money to help the poor kids in the ghetto learn about modern technology. Millionaires, Theo. Billionaires!”

I don’t want to meet them...” He’s almost inaudible.

You’ve no choice, Theo, not if you care about CIH. Look, you don’t have to make a speech or anything. Just attend the function with me. Smile, Drink a bit of champagne. Shake people’s hands. I assume you have brochures and other PR material, right?”

Yes, yes....”

Bring that and let my people pass it out. Then all you have to do is be yourself, Theo. Share your passion for CIH, and let these people see how they can make a difference. I guarantee that if you follow my instructions, you’ll rake in at least a couple million in one evening.”

A couple million? You’re kidding.” His astonishment has overwhelmed his anxiety, at least for the moment.

Dr. Moore, another thing about me: I never kid about money.”

Theo is silent. I press my advantage. “The function’s black tie—I love to get dressed up, even if most of the Valley crowd would be happier wearing polo shirts with company logos seven days a week. So I’ve taken the liberty of ordering you a tuxedo. The tailor will deliver it this afternoon, and make alterations if necessary. You will be at home, right? Your department secretary says you have no classes or meetings today.”

Dr. Zelinsky, you have no right to go snooping into my life.” I hear genuine anger in his tone. A little chill shimmers through me. “Talking to my secretary! Finding my street address! What, did you do a secret 3D scan to get my suit measurements? I’m not one of the pawns who inhabit your virtual world. I care about my privacy.”

Sorry—Theo, please, try to understand. I just want to make this as painless as possible for you. I apologize if you feel I’m being intrusive. If I’d asked you whether you wanted a tuxedo, though, you probably would have refused my offer.”

Damn right I would. I’m not wearing some penguin suit just to please you, Rachel Zelinsky.”

A little thrill shoots through me. There’s something about the way my name rolls off his tongue—as though he’d been saying it, or at least thinking it, a lot...

Theo.” I soften my voice, add a note a pleading. “It’s not for me. It’s for the kids in South Central. Can’t you do it for them?”

Humph.” When that’s all he says, I know I’ve won this round.

Pick you up at six. I’m looking forward to seeing you again, Theo.”

He hangs up without any reply.

I find that my nipples are like stone and I’m soaked with sweat.

* * * *

Want to find out what happens at the fundraiser? Get yourself a copy of the book!

Kinky Literature

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble




Google Books


In any case- I do hope you’ll leave a comment and help build the next generation of female engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs!


Liv Rancourt said...

Commenting to support a worthy cause. Fun excerpt! Thanks!

Author H K Carlton said...

Another worthy cause. Girls who code rock!

Larry Archer said...

Worthy cause. We need more women coding.
Love Larry

dourdan said...

I wish i learned coding in school. i had to teach myself via the internet.

and even then i code like a typical 90's kid

Anonymous said...

Great cause - and hot/fun little excerpt:)

Fiona McGier said...

Hmmm, I gotta read this book again. Every excerpt reminds me of how much I enjoyed it!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks to all for your comments! Off to donate $10 to Girls Who Code...

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