Town Talk Features

Student Standouts: 7.15.20

sophie maniscalco of st. joseph’s academy 

Sophie Maniscalco is dedicated to proving that science and technology aren’t just for boys. The St. Joseph’s Academy student, who will be a senior in the fall, is the co-founder and president of Supergirls Code, a  nation-wide organization that empowers girls through coding classes in a supportive environment. She also was recently named to the FIRST Tech Challenge National Dean’s List for her dedication to and involvement in robotics.

How did you get involved in coding and robotics?
The summer before my freshman year, I did Kode with Klossy, the camp that Karlie Kloss founded. I didn’t have prior experience with programming, but after the two weeks were over, I realized I really loved it. When I started at St. Joe’s, I joined the robotics team.

What inspired you to start Supergirls Code?
My friend Kailin and I were participating in a charity hackathon, and we noticed that there were very few other young women there. After talking to our friends, we realized that a lot of girls don’t have the opportunity to learn to code. Kailin had also participated in Kode with Klossy, and we both felt the supportive, all-girl environment had made us feel welcomed and encouraged us to pursue programming. We wanted to give other girls the same experience. We created a class that teaches the basics of coding and highlights the importance of women in tech. We started small with just a library class and then one at my grade school. Now, we’ve made our curriculum available online, and there are chapters across the country.

You’ve also written a book about women in tech.
A professor at Georgetown University approached me about participating in a new program, and that’s how my book, Supergirls, started. I developed it in my own time with help from the professor, and I got to interview women working in tech. It’s a cool way to spread word about the amazing achievements of women in the field, many of which continue to go unrecognized. I realized sharing these stories is really valuable to helping close the gender gap.

Why do you think it’s important to support girls’ interest in STEM subjects?
My self-confidence increased after I started coding. When programming, you can see everything happening right in front of you. It really shows what you’re capable of and that the possibilities are endless. It helped me find my own path and brought a lot of opportunities. I started working with robotics, participated in hackathons and attended a Teen Vogue summit after writing an essay about women in the field. I want to show other girls that these options are open to them, too. We need to start changing the stereotype that coding and technology are subjects for boys.

As part of its sponsorship, Sport Court has made a donation to Kode with Klossy on behalf of Sophie.