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Being a teenage girl isn’t always simple. Neither is being a woman in tech—at any age. Enter, surprisingly, Karlie Kloss. As an adolescent pre-supermodel growing up in St. Louis, she recalls, “I was insecure, vulnerable, and impressionable. It’s not an easy age.” Another surprise: What ended up giving her self-esteem a much-needed boost was her middle school science class. “I was really lucky that I had great, passionate teachers who unlocked this curiosity about science for me,” Kloss says. “It’s a combination of having impactful experiences with teachers but also gaining confidence by trying something new and hard—and realizing you can figure it out.”
Now 25, with increased perspective and some real-world experience with gender (dis)parity, the former vulnerable teen is a world-famous multihyphenate with a passion for empowering young women through technology—a mission that helped earn her a spot last year on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People.
“In the tech industry, across the board, there aren’t women in leadership positions, and there’s certainly not equal representation of women, or diversity,” Kloss says. After enrolling in New York University in 2015, she decided to do something about the dearth of female techies. Drawing on her memories of being buoyed by great science teachers, she founded Kode with Klossy, a free two-week summer camp in ten cities that teaches coding to young women ages 13 to 18. “The girls in our classrooms really recognize that they can be the change that they want to see,” Kloss says. “It all starts with learning the skills.” kodewithklossy.com
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