Kimberly Bryant: She’s Increasing Tech Diversity

December 14 - On The Dot
 
FIRST THOUGHT: This is a Woman’s World

Have you ever noticed the most ignorant opinions often come from people who are stuck in the antiquated days of the past? For instance, I’m thinking of guys who think women don’t belong in certain industries and spout off idiotic notions like, “Women shouldn’t go into space! Women can’t code!” I’m saying no more to sexist ideas, no more to outdated, foolish dudes and no more to women being held back from accomplishing whatever we want in life and work!

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 3 Percent

While women can and do enter many fields dominated by men, creating real change in many industries takes time. Let’s look at the tech industry, for instance. According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, in 2015, a quarter of the computing workforce was female. There’s no doubt that’s a significant percentage, especially in an industry that’s not very old. But when it comes to true diversity in tech, the trade still has a way to go, with only 3 percent of the U.S. tech workforce being African-American women. With an estimated 1.4 million jobs expected to be available in tech by 2020, it’s about time for some change.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO of Black Girls Code

We’re thankful for the women who take on complex jobs and pave the way for generations of ladies to come. Kimberly Bryant is one of those women, and as the founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, she’s got a bevy of girls ready to take on the male-dominated industry of computing.

Having majored in electrical engineering and minored in math at Vanderbilt University, Kimberly really knows her stuff when it comes to all things tech, and she started Black Girls Code as a way to educate, empower and provide young girls of color opportunities to master in-demand skills in technology and computer programming.

Before she started her own organization to address the lack of diversity in tech, Kimberly experienced firsthand how much such an institution was needed when she enrolled her middle-school daughter in a coding summer program at Stanford University and discovered her daughter was the only African-American participant in the entire class. Kimberly became determined to close the gap that existed for girls of color in the digital realm. It’s now her goal to train 1 million girls by 2040.

Through Black Girls Code, girls of color ages of 7 to 17 learn essential tech skills that would blow your mind. From learning how to code and design mobile apps to creating state-of-the-art robotics, girls gain the STEM education needed to rule the technology the rest of us rely on.

Black Girls Code recently offered a free hackathon event for girls in San Francisco. In a video from the event, one of the participating girls explains just how essential coding is, noting that her code could launch a rocket ship into space. How powerful is that?

It’s no surprise Kimberly has been awarded a number of honors for this important work, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service. In 2013, the White House also honored Kimberly as a Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion.

Thanks, Kimberly, for establishing such an essential organization aimed at empowering girls of color to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities and builders of their own futures. We’re excited to see how the next generation of black women in tech changes the world!

QUITE THE QUOTE

A mother of one of the Black Girls Code hackathon participants said something that really struck me, and I’d like to share it to finish today’s story. She said:

“As humans evolve, there’s going to be the makers and then the people who just follow along with whatever they made. This positions all these girls on the maker side of things.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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