Karlie Kloss on Coding, Competition, and Why the Future Is Female
In a world of multi-hyphenates (DJ! Influencer! Activist!), Karlie Kloss is a unique triple threat: supermodel, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed nerd. After learning to code a few years ago, the 24-year-old established a nonprofit, Kode With Klossy. The organization is getting even bigger and better this summer, providing close to 300 scholarships to girls aged 13 to 18. Winners will attend a coding summer camp—yes, with Karlie herself—in 10 cities across the country. Sound like something you’re into? Better get on that (applications close this week!). After you apply, read our exclusive interview with Karlie about STEM, sisterhood, and why *now* is the time to learn to code.
Why did you decide to grow your Kode With Klossy program this year?
I decided to create Kode With Klossy three years ago to increase access to computer science education for young women and girls, and to inspire them to want to learn code, which really is a life skill. It’s been incredible to see everything our students have accomplished and watch a community transform out of this program, and I’m so excited to see it grow even more this year. 2017 is the best time for girls to learn code because the opportunities in STEM are growing every single day, and it’s important for women to be able to take advantage of those opportunities.
How does one remain empowered in a STEM field when it's dominated by men, which makes it difficult for women to succeed?
At Kode With Klossy, our camps are all-girls, and our teachers and other female role models come in to share their experiences about working in the tech industry and the obstacles they’ve faced. There is a real strength in sisterhood. Knowing that despite the statistics, there are fellow students, colleagues, mentors and friends in STEM you can count on is really important.
What is the most important lesson coding has taught you?
Code is a superpower! It can be applied to whatever it is you’re passionate about, whether that’s fashion, sports, environmental issues, philanthropy—you name it. Learning to code opens doors to so many industries and opportunities, and it isn’t just for people who excel at math and science. One of the most surprising things I learned in my first coding class was how much creativity and problem-solving it requires, as opposed to technical skills. Code is something everyone can and should have the opportunity to learn.
What’s your personal experience for dealing with people who underestimate you, whether it’s in modeling or STEM or life in general?
When I first started taking coding courses, a lot of people thought it was surprising or a little bit strange that a model was learning this skill. But that’s exactly the point we want to show! Modeling and code can go together, because there is so much overlap between fashion and tech. You can apply code to whatever you’re passionate about, even if it’s unexpected.
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong, and what advice do you have for girls who are going through the same thing?
My advice is to pursue the things you’re passionate about and make connections with the people who share those interests. When you’re doing something you truly love, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to form a community. At Kode With Klossy, our alumni have gone on to compete in hackathons together, celebrate each other’s birthdays, and travel to different reunions across the country. Having a support system around you is so important, especially during high school.
We believe the future is female. What does that look like to you?
I agree! The future is absolutely female. By empowering our next generation to learn code, the language of technology, we are giving them a voice and say in our future.
Learn more about Kode With Klossy and apply for a scholarship here.