“Here are a few of my ideas for apps,” Mindy Kaling told the crowd at the launch of Made With Code, Google’s new initiative designed to inspire young girls to study computer science, on Thursday night in New York.
“What’s His Deal?” she said, describing her concept for “an app that takes a picture of a guy and tells you, ‘What’s his deal?’ Married?”
“Shazam for Perfumes! Or Facts-bender, an app that tells you periodic facts about Michael Fassbender,” she continued, admitting in front of the crowd of more than 150 girls from local NYC clubs that only her “complete and utter lack of understanding of coding” keeps them from becoming reality.
Kaling, who headlined the event, told BuzzFeed that she was inspired to support Google’s venture after realizing how male-dominated a field computer programming tends to be. (Tech companies employ an average of only 12.33% women engineers, and less than 1% of high school girls see computer science in their futures.)
“My very best friend from college started an app called Hopscotch, which is designed to get more young people, especially girls, interested in coding,” Kaling said. “It was through her that I found out just how few young girls are getting into coding, which is amazing to me because I’m in an industry that I thought we had the lowest amount of minority women getting into it.”
Though she’s now famous for, as she puts it, playing a “chubby Indian gynecologist who’s unlucky in love but burns through hot dudes every week [on The Mindy Project],” Kaling, 34, said she thought she could have excelled at computer science had she had the chance. “I think 15-year-old me might have been a good coder, but now I’m old and decrepit, so I don’t know how good I’d be now,” she said. “I think I could’ve done it! I just wasn’t encouraged to try, so part of why I’m doing this is because I feel a little bit like I missed out as a kid.”
Kaling herself is active online; she has over 750,000 followers on Instagram, where she posts photos almost daily, and tweets jokes to her friends in the same manner she once did, she said, over AOL email.
“I have a very social job,” Kaling said. “So every day when I go to work I’m interacting with, like, 175 people, so social media has just been a way to cut corners and save time. When I go home, I’m happy to stop talking, because my home is like a quiet cathedral.”