Sanya Gupta (’24) creates non-profit to empower girls in computer science


Tejasvini Ramesh

Sanya Gupta (’24) created GirlsInCS, a non-profit that teaches girls about computer science and encourages them to pursue a career in the field.

In first grade, Sanya Gupta (‘24) was introduced to computer science. Today, she’s the founder and CEO of GirlsInCS, a non-profit that inspires and teaches girls computer science. 

“I’ve been really passionate about computer science and technology, mostly because I’ve been exposed to it from a really young age,” said Gupta.

Gupta loved computer science from the moment she was introduced to the field, taking time to learn languages ranging from HTML and CSS to Java and Pascal. However, after conducting a survey of 300 girls in her community, she was shocked to learn that only 3% were interested in computer science.

Gupta searched for a way to spread her knowledge about computer science and found it through the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve. Having already received her Silver Award, Gupta was able to get the support and resources she needed by proposing GirlsInCS as a Gold Award project.

“I really wanted to spread some of [my] knowledge to other girls who might not have otherwise had exposure to that or a chance to explore that field. Combined with the growing gender gap that you hear in the news, that really motivated me to spread my knowledge in some way,” said Gupta.

Creating the Non-Profit

During January of 2020, Gupta started GirlsInCS, a California non-profit organization that began holding classes to teach girls about computer science. She taught local middle school-aged girls a variety of programming languages, including Python, HTML, CSS, and MIT App Inventor every Wednesday during two month-long sessions. 

“[I enjoy teaching because] I know a lot of areas girls have problems in, and I feel happy when I’m able to help them through it. They feel accomplished and they’re proud of themselves,” said Gupta. “And I’m like, yeah, I helped with that — it feels good.”

But Gupta didn’t stop there. She also invited guest speakers to the sessions and then began planning what would be her proudest achievement: the 2022 Global GirlsInCS Hackathon. The biggest challenge Gupta faced was dealing with finances and finding a suitable location.

“I thought I would just hold it in Amador’s MP, but apparently they don’t do it for free. I talked to Mr. Powell and the office, and they said it’s gonna take about $1,600. They couldn’t give me a discount and you had to pay a similar amount everywhere else,” said Gupta. “So, I just started fundraising, and I was able to raise $2000 total — $1,500 for the venue and $500 for other expenses.”

The 2022 Global GirlsInCS Hackathon

On the day of the hackathon, over 120 girls came in-person — much to Gupta’s surprise. On top of that, 50 more girls tuned in online from around the country, even reaching all the way to Brazil and India. 

After hearing from guest speakers and Gupta herself, participants learned the basics of different coding languages, then teamed up to create projects. The next day, the girls pitched their ideas to a panel of judges using the business/marketing skills they learned.

“I hope that the girls learned something, but even if they got distracted and they didn’t, I just hope that they’re excited about the field or want to explore the field a bit more — it’s a very broad area. There’s a lot that you can specialize in, so if they have a general interest, I bet they’ll be able to find something that they really like,” said Gupta.

Future Plans

As she continues to teach sessions, Gupta is currently in the process of creating more GirlsInCS chapters to expand the program to other states. The materials used at the hackathon will be provided to any Girl Scout troop that wants to host a similar event.

“We’re just trying to grow the organization out a bit, and I think it’ll be really beneficial to girls who want to get some sort of exposure to it,” said Gupta.

For her work with GirlsInCS, Gupta recently received the Aspirations in Computing award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Although coding will always be a part of her life, Gupta doesn’t see herself pursuing it full-time in the future. 

“I don’t wanna put all my coding knowledge to waste, but I’m also really interested in astronomy, so honestly, my dream career is working at NASA. I’m hoping to apply my CS knowledge to my passion for space,” said Gupta.