Mindy Kaling's Redefining Girl Code

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2Photo: Taylor Hill/Filmmagic for Google.
When Mindy Kaling took the stage Thursday night as part of Google's Made with Code launch celebration it wasn't to perform stand-up, but to talk about the importance of encouraging girls to learn code. But, that doesn't mean she didn't bring the laughs. Kaling shared her excellent app ideas that she simply can't develop because she's not tech-savvy enough: “'What’s His Deal?' An app that takes a picture of a guy and tells you what’s his deal: Married? Single? Weirdo? What’s his car like? 'Shazam for Perfumes.' 'Facts-Bender,' an app that tells you periodical facts about Michael Fassbender. 'App Trap' — an app that tells you if your app idea is any good." For the record, those are all solid ideas we'd fully support.

Kaling did manage to use one of Google's new programs to make her own bracelets with code (they read 'No More Stealing Cars' and 'Beyoncé Pad Thai'). We sat down with Kaling during the event to talk more about how girls could make those apps, given the right resources.

How did you get involved with Google's Made with Code?
“Well, it was kind of a coincidence, because my best friend from college Jocelyn Leavitt started a company called Hopscotch, which is an app designed to help young people — especially girls — learn to code. It's super fun, makes it seem like a game. Then Google asked me to come in and see this event, and, in talking to Jocelyn about it, I realized I’m in an industry where a lot has been written about me being a minority woman who has her own show. There are even less women involved with coding, and I thought, if I can help, in any way, I would love to.”

Why do you want to encourage young women and girls to learn code?
“There are all these jobs to be had. Google is actively saying they want to hire female coders, and when you have such a reputable, worldwide organization that is literally saying they want to recruit you, it’s just silly for women not to chase that. I think a larger thing would be for women to support themselves, and for them to move where there’s job opportunities. Guys are doing it, so women should be doing it, too.”
2Photo: Taylor Hill/Filmmagic for Google.
Who should be responsible for encouraging girls to code? Parents? Teachers?
“It’s both. It’s totally both. I was not particularly encouraged by my school to go into coding or computer science. And also, because I wasn’t interested — because it wasn’t billed in a way that seemed like it was fun at all. My parents, knowing me, and knowing how it was presented, didn’t particularly encourage it either, which was fine, because I had other interests. I was into Latin, which is about a thousand times more boring than coding. So, if my school could make Latin seem palatable to me — and it really was — then I think coding can be, too. They just have to make it seem that way. What I think is so cool about this site is that the coders are making it seem like a social place where girls can go, that’s not just solitary or traditionally [for] boys, which is what I think girls think coding is.”

If you could make anything with code, just off the top of your head, like a dream object, what would you make?
“Probably a walk-in closet. Just like a sick walk-in closet made with code would be awesome.”