This “Black History Month” I am shining a light on “Black Women in Tech”. Technology is impacting upon all of our lives.
However, the names of black women in tech are still not universal, despite many great contributions. Black women have been historically overlooked and underrepresented in the STEM sector. Current statistics show that black women make up 0.7% of IT professionals.
Yet, through family histories and reading non-mainstream media, I became aware of more and more black women doing extra-ordinary work. In this article, I share a few insights and highlights.
As a former school teacher, I reflected upon the experiences of my pupils. I see clearly where there was lack of representation, for example on display boards in classrooms. What experience were pupils leaving school with? In my education work, I have visited many schools across the country and this example is repeated.
A bit about Me
Before we go any further, let me share a bit more about myself. I am a #TechWomen100 award winner who has built a portfolio career as an education consultant, coach and author. You can read more about me here
Addressing a lack of diversity
When learners and adults see examples of black women in STEM, in my opinion, it helps to do three things;
- Show that STEM is not just for a certain ethnicity
- Inspires young black women into STEM careers
- Inspires black female career changers into STEM careers
For the country as a whole, having a diverse workforce means greater innovation and economic growth.
Where are the examples
As a black woman who is a leader in education and technology, Here are my examples.
- Dr Gladys West – a talented mathematician, who contributed to developing the Global Positioning System (GPS). Technology that many of us rely on every day.
- Beverly Clarke – a former teacher, who has contributed significantly to raising the profile of computing education in the UK and internationally.
- Marie Van Brittan Brown – invented a home security system, which would lay the ground work for CCTV systems that are now seen worldwide.
- Valerie Thomas – a data scientist and inventor. Valerie invented a way to transmit 3D images. She made significant contributions to the work of NASA
- Ann Marie Imafidion – the founder and CEO of Stemettes, a social enterprise promoting girls, young women and non-binary people in STEM.
- Charlene Hunter – CEO and founder of Coding Black Females, the largest organisation in the UK, dedicated to providing opportunities for black female developers.
- Lynda Chinaka – a senior lecturer in Computing education, contributing towards training a generation of teachers with tech skills to take into the classroom.
- Ramat Tejani – significant contributions across the UK tech sector, for big tech companies. Including leading on programmes to inspire girls to consider careers in STEM.
What can be done
Apart from raising awareness every #BlackHistoryMonth I feel the following can be done on an ongoing basis.
- Continued work on raising awareness of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
- Promote mentorship for black women at all stages in their careers
- Investing in education and outreach programs that reach aspiring young people and also inspire
- Organizations to take an honest look at who is employed and how much they are paid
By writing this article, I hope I am making my contribution, on the grounds of advocacy, raising awareness and providing practical hints and tips. Let’s “Salute our sisters” this #BlackHistoryMonth2023
Remember to reach out to me if you would like to work with me. I am open to new and amazing opportunities.