by Tiara Starks
There’s no doubt that technology has a large impact in the development of our world. As technology progresses and makes our lives more convenient, there’s more of an emphasis to ensure these developments are accessible and equitable for everyone. Historically, Black women have been stigmatized to not enter fields in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), which have been dominated by men. Furthermore, in 2021 during the onslaught of COVID-19, more womxn of color were furloughed or let go than their male co-workers. As a woman of color who has seen the internal operations of a tech company, I’ve been able to observe and recognize the changes that the industry is currently going through. That being said, change isn’t happening as quickly in every part of the field.
According to Karla Monterroso, CEO of the non-profit, Code2040, “The pipeline problem is an American pipeline problem — there are 700,000 open tech roles in the country, and only 56,000 computer science graduates. And even with that pipeline problem, high-wage work is unwilling to hire Black and Latinx talent that exists. That’s the problem.” This comment along with the growing need for gender diversity in tech has been a topic of conversation for quite some time. Just recently, Amazon vowed to increase the number of Black and women leadership within its company. Now more than ever, the need for diverse representation is necessary in order to encourage more young talent to want to endure the work and responsibilities associated with being talented in an ever-changing and ever-evolving work environment.
If you’re looking for some motivation to jumpstart your career, consider checking out these three Black women who have already made substantial contributions to the innovative world of tech:
Kimberly Bryant is an influential electrical engineer with experience in the biotechnology industry. In 2011, Bryant founded the nonprofit organization called Black Girls CODE, an organization that empowers girls of color to enter technology fields which dedicates itself to building a new generation of coders by promoting coding programs and classes. A primary goal set forward by Bryant’s team is to provide coding training to one million girls by 2040.
Next up is Joy Ofodu. Ofodu is a marketing manager at Instagram who resides in the Bay Area in California. She’s an alum of the University of Southern California. Ofodu started her career as an Instagram intern in 2017. As a Black employee of one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, it comes as no surprise that Ofodu is outspoken about her work which she mentioned in an interview saying “Our presence helps to validate that yes, we are brilliant and deserving of the opportunity to serve a global user base. Sometimes we can't be what we can't see. Finally, when we are represented at the table, we can help make our companies more empathetic to and supportive of Black users."
Michee Smith is a Product Manager at Google and has been working with this tech giant for over five years. She's an alum of Rochester Institute of Technology. Smith is responsible for infrastructure products that maintain transparency around data access and internal data governance operations on the handling of personal data. In an article published by Refinery29, Smith mentioned that the term “diversity hire” has not yet left the industry. “Across tech, I am still hearing stories where people are being referred to as a “diversity hire” or they try to start a diversity initiative and it’s received with statements like “I want to hire the 'top talent' as if the top talent can’t be more diverse than the mainstream talent that exists. Hiring top talent and hiring diverse talent aren’t opposing goals but complimentary.”
Being equipped with the knowledge that’s necessary in understanding the struggles Black people go through as they navigate the industry is key to cementing a career in tech. Moving forward, companies, entrepreneurs, and consumers have to be more engaged in the conversations surrounding diversity and equity in tech.
Want to learn more about equity in the workplace? Check out our four-part article series by Milkscope writer, Tyler Williams starting with “Equity is the new Equality”.
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