Several men and women wearing blue t-shirts are working on laptop computers.

Rebecca Novak: Executive Director, Bay Area, ScriptEd

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Rebecca Novak to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.  

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Rebecca Novak: ScriptEd helps more young people access careers in technology. Many schools are struggling with a shortage of qualified computer science teachers, particularly in low-income communities. By recruiting volunteers to teach coding skills, we can increase access to tech careers for historically underrepresented youth. 

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

RN: We realized we were onto something when our students started earning paid internships with engineering teams at some of the world's most innovative tech companies, while they were still in high school! It was a win-win. Our students gained real-world career experience, while companies gained access to highly skilled and diverse talent. 

 #SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

RN: School systems are slow to adapt to change. With few pre-existing standards and assessments, we had to create our own ways of teaching and measuring our students’ learning. Thanks to our team of former teachers and tech professionals, we developed a rigorous curriculum, built to adapt to the ever-changing tech field. 

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

RN: The most inspiring thing about ScriptEd is our community of activists and change-makers. Our students and volunteers are working together to break up deep-seated social inequities, from classroom to corporation. I’m awed by the passion that our students and volunteer teachers bring to the pursuit of equity and inclusion in tech, and the bravery it takes for them to do something they’ve never done before. 

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

RN: My work has taught me to never underestimate the power of a group of people committed to creating change. Share your ideas and goals with others. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by joining forces and working together for a cause that matters to you.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

RN: There can be no innovation without representation. If women aren't at the table throughout the innovation process, the outcome of that process will not benefit women. It’s time to look at innovation through a panoramic and kaleidoscopic lens, with multiple, diverse perspectives coming together.

Follow Rebecca Novak on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.