As she pursued her studies and advanced toward a career in cybersecurity – with the encouragement of her mother – she realized she was among only a few women of color following that path.
“My high school didn’t have the formal introduction to computer science that many schools today have,” Gailliard said. “For me, I knew I enjoyed math and science, and I knew about the idea of computer science because of my mom, but it was at Girls Who Code where I really got to build out that passion.”
Gailliard now works as a digital leadership development program associate at Raytheon Technologies. Her career arc is a case study in why Raytheon Technologies supports STEM education organizations – particularly those that seek greater gender and racial equity in STEM-related professions.
While women have been making gains in STEM roles at large, the proportion of women in computing actually declined between 1990 and 2019. Women hold only about a quarter of computing roles and 15% of engineering jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s part of why Girls Who Code is so valuable, Gailliard said: not only does the program teach the technology, but it does so through the lens and perspective of women who have done the work.
“You always feel more comfortable when you see somebody who looks like you,” she said. “That’s why joining Girls Who Code was such an important experience for me. I knew that other people that looked like me were going to be pursuing this path with me.”