The Atlantic

The Future of AI Depends on High-School Girls

Women make up one-quarter of computer scientists. But in the field of artificial intelligence those numbers are likely much lower.
Source: Alison Yin

During her freshman year, Stephanie Tena, a 16-year-old programmer, was searching the internet for coding programs and came across a website for an organization called AI4All, which runs an artificial-intelligence summer camp for high-schoolers. On the site, a group of girls her age were gathered around an autonomous car in front of the iconic arches of Stanford’s campus. “AI will change the world,” the text read. “Who will change AI?”

Tena thought maybe she could. She lives in a trailer park in California’s Salinas Valley; her mom, a Mexican immigrant from Michoacán, picks strawberries in the nearby fields. Tena has long black hair, a cheery, high-pitched voice, and an unflappably professional bearing: She refers to other students as “my peers” and her mentors as “notable professors,” and she has nailed the language of the scientific method (“My hypothesis was proven incorrect”). She had been coding for a couple of years, ever since attending a programming club at the local community college when she was still in junior high. “I prefer science over history,” she says. The summer after the 8th grade, she had flown to Los Angeles for a coding boot camp run by the supermodel Karlie Kloss, (who had in coding after taking a class

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min readTech
It’s a Winner-Take-All World, Whether You Like It or Not
Not long ago, I reached out to a writer I respect, and posed the uncomfortable question authors find themselves forced to ask: Would she write a blurb—the endorsement you see on the back cover—for my new book about how a person can navigate a career
The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
Hong Kong’s Protesters Earn a Victory. They Will Need More.
Officials in Hong Kong said they would suspend controversial proposed legislation. There will be other efforts to erode the city’s freedoms.
The Atlantic6 min read
Tip Your Hotel Maid
My grandmother worked in housekeeping for 10 years—and it’s a job where you could use a gratuity.