Seven-year-old Chloe Bridgewater, who lives in Britain, wants to work for Google. According to her father, Andy Bridgewater, the idea came to her when she was sitting at his desk last week and asked him what his job was.
"I work as a sales manager for a refrigeration company," Mr. Bridgewater replied, as he told USA Today, "which I assume is boring to a 7-year-old."
Undeterred, Chloe asked where he would like to work instead, and her father told her Google, showing her pictures of the Google offices online. Chloe was so impressed by the slides and beanbag chairs in the photographs that she declared that she, too, wanted to work for the tech giant.
She then put pen to paper and wrote herself an application, in the form of a letter addressed to "Dear Google boss," to send to the massive corporation.
"My name is Chloe and when I am bigger I would like a job with Google," she wrote. "I also want to work in a chocolate factory and do swimming in the Olympics."
She went on to describe why she wanted the job ("My dad said I can sit on bean bags and go down slides and ride go-karts in a job in Google"), gave a review of her qualifications ("I like computers too and have a tablet I play games on"), and even included references ("My teachers tell my mum and dad that I am very good in class and am good at my spelling, reading, and my sums").
"My dad told me to give you a application to get a job in Google," she concluded. "I don't really know what one of them is but he said a letter will do for now. Thank you for reading my letter, I have only ever sent one other and that was to Father Christmas. Goodbye."
Her impressive résumé caught the attention of Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, who personally responded to Chloe's letter four days later.
"I'm glad that you like computers and robots, and hope that you will continue to learn about technology," Mr. Pichai wrote. "I think if you keep working hard and following your dreams, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to – from working at Google to swimming in the Olympics. I look forward to receiving your job application when you are finished with school!"
According to her father, Chloe was thrilled with the reply.
"To say she is delighted after receiving this letter signed by Sundar Pichai himself is an understatement," the elder Bridgewater wrote in a LinkedIn post that included the full text of the CEO's letter. "She is now even more eager to do well at school and work for Google."
"Can't thank such a busy person enough to take time out to make a little girl's dream become one step closer," he added, "although [I'm] not sure she's fully aware that it'll take more than riding go karts and sleeping in pods to make it with Google!"
If Chloe does make it to Silicon Valley, however, she'll find herself in an industry dominated by men – for now. In the past few years, a flurry of groups have begun initiatives to attract more women to high-tech jobs and keep them there, as Carolyn Abate reported for The Christian Science Monitor in May 2015:
Silicon Valley is perhaps the world’s leading crucible of innovation. But it is a man’s world. While women make up roughly 50 percent of the workforce in the United States, their numbers in the tech industry come in at around 25 percent. In senior positions, it is 17 percent, and 12 percent for executive positions, according to the Anita Borg Institute, a nonprofit that promotes the advancement of women in the tech industry.
At all levels, though, the core challenge is changing cultural expectations, says Jenna Carpenter, an associate dean of undergraduate studies at the Louisiana Tech University’s College of Engineering and Science.
“It really does have to be a cultural change,” she says.
Programs like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that supports more comprehensive computer education for young women, federal initiatives like the Obama White House's Computer Science For All, and even programming classes in nontraditional places such as homeless shelters have all contributed to the swell of interest in supporting women drawn to computer science.
"These girls can grow up to be role models for their friends who aren't in the program [and I hope] that they can ... be a little smarter, a little more able to solve problems in their own community," Stuart Guertin, a volunteer programming teacher at a Boston homeless shelter, told the Monitor in November. "Programming is problem-solving."