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In Bold: Avye Couloute

Many of us were curious kids, sitting in the back of the car asking ‘Why?’

But not all of us acted on the answers we were given. Not all of us went looking for answers ourselves. And not all of us founded a movement at the age of 11.

That’s exactly what Avye Couloute did when she created Girls Into Coding. Since 2018, her series of workshops has brought thousands of girls to the world of tech and STEM.

In our new series, In Bold, we talk to changemakers whose actions highlight hope and make what’s possible stand out. We caught up with Avye during the summer holidays and chatted about how she built a community that is closing the gender-gap in tech – as well as why she felt moved to build it in the first place.

Here’s Avye’s story.

Growing bold

While most of us were glued to the TV as kids, Avye was curious about what was happening behind it. “I remember looking at the back of the TV and finding it really interesting. I’d try to understand which wires went where and what they did,” Avye recalls. “I’d find little bits of hardware and different technology components around the house and start building things.”

Avye’s generation has grown up with computers and devices as part of their everyday lives, but the magic of tech isn’t lost on her; “It’s not just about new devices – I’m excited about how we can use it to make the world better. Technology is a way for us to improve our environment and it really can make life easier for lots of people if we use it creatively. That’s why it’s so important to introduce people from different backgrounds to technology at an early stage.”

“We can use technology to make the world better if we get creative.”

A bold step

Following both her curiosity and her imagination led Avye to start attending local coding events and workshops. “I noticed that there was no one like me at these events,” she says. “They were full of boys, but I knew that girls were into this kind of stuff too – or that they could be if there was space created for them. I started to think about creating that space myself by putting on events where girls would feel comfortable to learn and explore their passion. It was really about developing a supportive and innovative community.”

And so that’s what Avye did; “My mum and I crowdfunded some money to be able to run workshops locally and provide all the girls with a take-home tech kit so that they could continue their learning and experimentation at home. It contained a book about STEM, a Microbit, different electronic components and some cool swag and merchandise too.”

Taking a bold step isn’t easy. How did Avye feel on the eve of her first workshop? “I was so nervous beforehand, wondering if anyone would show up,” she says. “It was so cool to see how excited the girls were when what they’d built started working. Knowing that your code has done that gives you a real sense of accomplishment and you could see all of the girls grow in confidence.”

“I knew that girls were into technology– or that they could be if there was space created for them.”

Bold, but bigger

“Once we’d done about 10 events, I got the feeling that we were onto something,” Avye recalls. “We realised that the girls were enjoying it, which motivated me to grow the workshops so that we could reach more of them.”

Since that first workshop, Girls Into Coding has grown exponentially, culminating most recently in a three-day bootcamp; “It was really cool to make the bootcamp happen. I’d wanted to do it for a while. Just like with our early workshops, it felt new and nerve-wracking, but we created an outline of what the girls could do over the course of three days and built it from there.”

Avye has been at the forefront of Girls Into Coding’s success, winning accolades such as , The Royal Academy of Engineering Excellence Award for Outstanding Pupil (2023), UK Young Engineer of the Year in 2022, Princess Diana Legacy award in 2019, a Women In Tech Aspiring Teen Award in 2020 and the National Lottery Young Hero of the Year award in 2022. She’s been listed as one of Forbes 30 Under 30, Natwest’s Top 100 Women In Social Enterprise and The Big Issue’s Changemakers.

But for Avye, it’s in the workshops that she finds the moments that truly matter; “When girls tell me that they felt proud of what they were able to make or that it made them do a little self-reflection, it highlights exactly why I created Girls Into Coding. Those moments still feel special to me.”

“Girls tell me that they feel proud of what they were able to make and that feels special to me.”

Fueling bold

You could say that one of Avye’s biggest sources of inspiration comes from seeing problems that the world and the people in it are facing – no matter how big they might seem at first.

“The idea of using technology to improve air quality inspired my Pavilion Project. I worked with an organization called Design Spark, who asked me if I could create a piece of technology that monitored CO2 levels,” she explains. “I came up with an air quality pavilion that could monitor and react to the internal C02 levels to improve air quality. It featured a skylight and a shutter wall that would open depending on air pollution, as well as lights that would indicate the level of air quality too. The idea was to ultimately create a better environment for people to live and work in.

”And as for the people that inspire her? “I look to girls and women who are doing really cool stuff in the tech community for inspiration. It’s their ideas, their determination, their passion, their entrepreneurialism, their attitude, their definiteness of purpose, or their courage that I find inspiring.”

“The ideas, passion, determination and definiteness of purpose that I see from girls like me in tech inspires me.”

A bold future

So what’s next for Avye? “At the moment I’m experimenting with Artificial Intelligence (AI). There are so many positive elements to AI and so I want to learn how to incorporate it into my projects,” she says. “Trying new things is so important to me, as when I learn something new I can share it with the girls who attend my workshops too. We can all learn from each other.”

As Avye grows her knowledge, she wants to grow Girls Into Coding too: “I want to continue to develop and create more workshops. I’ve set myself a personal goal of growing Girls Into Coding to put on enough workshops to engage 1000 girls a year – and we’re on our way to getting there.”

And Avye’s message to those of us who want to be more bold? “Once you’ve identified a problem, don’t be afraid to lead the way to a solution. If you start leading, others will follow and it will bring about a positive change. Be that person.”

'“Be that person. If you start leading, others will follow.”

Thanks for reading

We hope you feel inspired by Avye’s story – we can’t wait to see what she does next. Her journey is a reminder that leadership isn’t something we acquire with age or time or titles. It comes from our actions – and our willingness to act in the first place.

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Thanks for reading

We hope you feel inspired by Avye’s story – we can’t wait to see what she does next. Her journey is a reminder that leadership isn’t something we acquire with age or time or titles. It comes from our actions – and our willingness to act in the first place.