We have another dope way to fight negative STEM stereotypes! 

Sasha Ariel Alston, a 19-year-old from Washington D.C., has written Sasha Savvy Loves to Code, a semi-autobiographical story about a 10-year-old black girl and her friends attending an all-girls coding camp. The book is meant to inspire young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while also teaching some programming basics.

After completing the book during her sophomore year at Pace University's Lubin School of Business, Alston launched a Kickstarter to raise $5,000, hitting that goal in a wildly-impressive four days. By the end of the campaign, Alston had raised $17,602. 

Speaking with The Renewal Project, Alston described the stereotypical image of someone interested in STEM, as being a glasses-wearing “white male or boy."

Alston first became aware of how little she fit the image of a STEM professional during a coding internship at Microsoft, where the diversity problem was a rude awakening. 

“With all of my internships, I noticed that I was either the only girl or only African American,” Alston said. “My school was mostly African American so I didn’t really know how to interact with anybody else ... going into the spaces at the beginning felt very challenging and difficult to me.”

After Alston attempted to explain coding during a radio interview, her mother, Tracy Chiles McGhee, urged her to write a children’s book to break it down. Throughout the process, Alston was engulfed by a supportive maternal village: fellow writers, a librarian and a school teacher. 

Having been teased for her interests, Alston hopes her book will light a fire in the next generation of STEM sisters. Sasha Savvy Loves to Code is sure to be a huge boost for young girls interested in STEM, especially in a time when society is starting to move away from stigmatizing the field for young black girls!