Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni

Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni

Ellora and Ayna take a holistic approach to attracting women to computer science, because they believe the social aspects of the field are as appealing as the technical.They have built she++ into the Bay Area's only women-in-tech movement for high schoolers, college students, and industry professionals, gathering support from companies (e.g. Facebook, Box), university departments, and venture capital firms (e.g. Andreessen-Horowitz). They have also garnered media attention from Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Stanford Daily.

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Ellora and Ayna are Juniors at Stanford University. Together they founded she++, Stanford’s first conference on women in technology, launched in spring 2012. They would love to hear your views on she++, women in tech, or anything else!

she++ was Stanford’s first conference on women in technology, launched in spring 2012 by then sophomores Ayna Agarwal and Ellora Israni. The conference attracted 200+ attendees from around the Bay Area, and has since evolved into the she++ 2.0 Campaign for Women in Technology. she++ seeks to inspire women to empower computer science.  Join the conversation below from August 13-19 or reach out to them via @sheplusplus on Twitter.

  1. 794 days ago

    Vida Gabe

    Hi Ellora and Ayna! I’m so glad to hear about your conference as I think any initiative dedicated to supporting women in technology is always welcome. What you’re doing is very much in line with the aims of Girl Geek Dinners, which my organization (Telecentre.org Foundation) recently profiled on our website: http://ow.ly/d8QwM. Have you heard of them? I think many of their members would have loved to attend your conference (assuming they haven’t already).



  2. 802 days ago

    Maria Amelia Lopes Sampaio

    Hello Ellora and Ayna. First I would like to give you a big congrats on your initiative, great idea and a very simple, though efficient, way to start some buzz around this topic. As Marzena, I am also curious to learn about what inspired to creat this conference? On top, I also would like to know about the outcome of this first conference? Could you share with us some results? Thank you!



    • Ellora Israni

      Hi Maria! Look to my answer to Marzena’s post for your first question. For your second–we sent out a survey to all conference participants, and got a lot of positive feedback. The number one most popular part was the “networking lunch”, where small groups of students chatted with mentors. Participants really enjoyed the intimate opportunity to ask questions of someone they look up to. The number one request was that the rest of the conference be small-group focused as well, which is why we are making the second conference workshop (vs. panel) focused. We have posted some of people

      801 days ago


    • Ellora Israni

      ‘s feedback on our blog at sheplusplus.stanford.edu under the “Blog” tab, and of course feel free to share your thoughts with us by Tweeting @sheplusplus!

      801 days ago


  3. 802 days ago

    Marzena Zukowska

    Hello Ellora and Ayna. First, let me echo some of Dani’s sentiments by saying it is a pleasure to have your insights here on ChangePulse. So with that said, what is founding story? What pushed you to start Stanford’s first conference on women in tech?



    • Ellora Israni

      Hi Marzena! Ayna and I did not come into Stanford as technical majors (we were pre-vet and psychology, respectively), and we changed our minds because of some wonderful females in tech who came to campus and inspired us to pursue other paths. We wanted to bring some more mentors and role models so that high school and college students could have the chance to derive the same inspiration we did. Our goal is not to force tech upon women, but rather to provide them a holistic view of what it is to be a woman in tech and let them decide for themselves. And I think coming up with the name “she++” was all the nerdy affirmation we needed ;)

      801 days ago


    • Ayna Agarwal

      Hi Marzena, thanks for the question! Both Ellora and myself entered Stanford as “non-techies”, she was a Psychology major and I was a Pre-Vet. Ellora was encouraged to take the ‘cool, and fun’ introductory CS class, CS106A, and immediately fell in love. And I read Marissa Mayer’s story and (basically, wanting to be her) decided to take CS106A. I also fell in love! So we immediately, and independently turned tech. But we realized there was a lack of conversation on campus and in the Bay area, specifically for girls and women who may have never considered pursuing a technical field before. Whether or not you want to be a CEO or run a non-profit, through our experiences, we realized that it is important to have technical skills. So we decided to do something about it — to start the conversation on Stanford’s campus. At the end of the conference, when a couple of girls had told us that they are now going to try to learn programming, we knew we were heading in the right direction. Moving forward, we are directing and producing a short documentary, building a distance-learning Android app curriculum (for first-time coders!), and revamping our website, all alongside with our conference. It just took some impulse and the dream for impact, and we were off!

      801 days ago


  4. 803 days ago

    Dani Matielo

    Ellora and Ayna, hello! First of all, thank you so much for joining the conversation! As a enthusiastic supporter of the concept behind having more girls in the STEM field, I wanted to say that I am a huge fan of she++. (And I just love this name. :) From everything that you have seen and people you’ve met in organizing she++, I would like to ask you, what do you believe is the biggest problem of not having girls in the tech field? How does this impact society as a whole? Thank you!



    • Ayna Agarwal

      Hi Dani, Thank you for the support and enthusiasm! We’ve met a number of people through she++, fortunately, ranging from high school students all the way to industry professionals and aspirationals. The problem of not having girls in the tech field is important in very simple terms: we need more computer scientists! We need more people who need to understand the software, websites, and gadgets they interact with on a daily basis. According to the NCWIT, in 2020 the current CS workforce will be able to fill only about 30% of the CS jobs necessary. Diversity inherently increases the size of that pie, when you bring more women and diversity into the field, you inclusively will increase the CS workforce overall. And similarly, there is the age old argument that we need girls’ perspectives! :) Much research suggests that having women on a team increases efficiency, monetary returns, and a new type of creativity. A majority of people who use tech products are women — so it’s also good to have other women who are helping inform these products!

      801 days ago