"Out of 900k students, zero were women under the Taliban regime"

— Fereshteh Forough

Fereshteh Forough, CEO & Founder of Code To Inspire


(You can listen to the podcast by subscribing to Creator Lab on iTunes, Soundcloud or your favorite podcast app, just search for “Creator Lab”)
Fereshteh Forough is the founder & CEO of Code to Inspire, an award winning organization that is empowering Afghan girls by teaching them how to code. Fereshteh was a TED speaker on digital literacy & communication without borders in 2013. Code To Inspire was awarded a Google Rise Award for their work & she was recently featured in a “change is made with code” campaign linked on the Google homepage in Sep 2016.
In this incredibly raw conversation, we discuss everything from growing up as a refugee in Iran, to her struggles overcoming gender bias in Afghanistan, to what it took to set up Code To Inspire. We discuss why she thinks girls aren’t encouraged to go into technical fields like coding & what we can do to change that.

Show Notes


5 things to listen out for:
(1) Growing up – as a refugee in Iran & what it was like to return home to Afghanistan after the Taliban rule where female students made up 0% of the population.
(2) Getting into computer science by accident – why she hated it at first and the story behind how she ended up becoming a computer science professor.
(3) Unique challenges of setting up in Afghanistan – overcoming growing up with only 3hrs of electricity per day, dealing with gender bias & the cultural stigma attached to women in the work place.
(4) Embracing negativity to motivate yourself – how she uses negative comments to fuel her mission!
(5) Women in technology – why she thinks there are less females in technical fields & what we can do about it.
This conversation reminded me how much I take for granted.
I hope it inspires you to think bigger, face your fears and and take action.

Time Stamps


  • What does Fereshteh (her name) mean? [1m30s]
  • What problem are they trying to solve [2m]
  • Out of 900k students, zero were women during Taliban regime [2m26s]
  • Growing up as a refugee in Iran & returning to Afghanistan [3m40s]
  • Not liking computer science and how she accidentally got into it [11m11s]
  • Challenges of being a girl learning in Afghanistan [14m25s]
  • Having 3hrs of electricity a day [14m46s]
  • Becoming a professor [16m48s]
  • Genesis & where she got the idea for code to inspire [21m15s]
  • Finding what you’re passionate about and dealing with a slump [22m41]
  • Supporting herself with little income [24m28s]
  • Process of fundraising [25m30s]
  • Challenges of shipping laptops to Afghanistan [29m12s]
  • Being awarded the Google Rise award and being featured on the homepage [29m47s]
  • Recommendations on fundraising for other people [31m15s]
  • What it takes to make a coding school [36m21s]
  • When do you know when to pay yourself a salary [38m35s]
  • Security & stigma attached to education for girls [40m36s]
  • Dealing with negative comments on social media [43m11s]
  • What does the future look like [47m25s]
  • Academic vs practical learning [48m47s]
  • Why are there fewer women in technical fields and can we do to impact this [52m12]
  • Remembering women in the history of computing like Ada Lovelace [59m]
  • What success means to her [1h]
  • Last time she felt lost and dealing with it [1h2m]
  • Books that have impacted her [1h2m50s]
  • What she wants people to think of Afghanistan [1h5m]