Here's what the internet would look like if all code by women vanished

Girls Who Code's creative Missing Code campaign aims to underline just how important the contributions of women are to the internet.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

The internet would be a real mess without code written by women.

Girls Who Code

With a new campaign out in time for Computer Science Education Week, Girls Who Code is painting a picture of what the internet would like if every line of code written by women disappeared.

The campaign, Missing Code, features a short video showing familiar internet destinations -- Instagram, Pinterest, Netflix, Teen Vogue -- glitch out in an artful yet chaotic way. The Netflix URL splits in half, Gmail turns into gibberish, pins on Pinterest melt away. And a headline from The New York Times explains that 26% of all code has vanished from the internet, to match the statistic that women made up 26% of computing jobs in 2020. 

"There is still a perception out there that coding isn't for girls, but that's not true. We know that a huge part of the web was coded by women," said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that teaches girls computer science. "With this campaign, we're hoping to inspire the next generation of women coders by showing them what the world would look like if they weren't building it, designing it, coding it. Because without their contributions, the world as we know it, would fall apart."

Missing Code comes as organizations like Girls Who Code try to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry through education and outreach, particularly to younger girls. Tech companies have come under increased scrutiny as they attempt to shift their workforces from being mainly white and male and tackle issues like equal pay and representation at all levels.

Created  in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies' IF/THEN Initiative aimed at getting girls into STEM careers, the campaign also includes an interactive portal that lets you watch mockups of websites go haywire, peppered with dialog boxes with messages like, "In fact, the first-ever programmer was a woman. AKA none of this S%$# would even be possible without girls."