These Programs are Bridging the Equity Gap in the Tech World
The tech industry is notoriously an unwelcoming space to women and racial minorities in America. With 62% of employees in tech being white and 73.3% being men, the gap is incredibly vast and impossible to ignore.
In regard to minority involvement in any traditionally white/male dominated fields, it comes down to an issue of opportunity. Who is being mentored? Who is getting chosen for prestigious internships? Most importantly, who are we telling that opportunity is theirs for the taking?
In Sky Ariella’s article 25+ Telling Diversity in High Tech Statistics for Zippia, she discusses how Black employees negotiate a smaller salary than whites, averaging a shocking $10,000. Ariella goes on to report that while there has been some upswing in hiring diversity among big tech leaders, they’re still falling short. Facebook, on one hand, “increased the number of Black women they hire by 25% and increased the number of black men they hire by 10%” (Ariella), while Google has seen a rise of less than 1% in Black and Latino hires from 2014-2019.
This disparity has begged the need for a more equitable distribution of opportunity among minorities, particularly young Black people. For the third installment of our Black History Month article series, we’re going to look at some of the organizations that are striving to change these statistics and bridge the opportunity gap in the tech world.
Black Girls CODE
Founded by Kimberly Brant in 2011, Black Girls CODE has become one of the best known organizations helping to uplift Black girls in the pursuit of technology education. Black Girls CODE offers 4 different programs to help girls explore some of the various disciplines in technology. These include web design, game design, mobile and app design, and robotics. There are currently 15 chapters available for girls to join, and a free online academy CODE along for girls who don’t have access to one of the main chapters.
Hack The Hood
Hack The Hood is an organization helping to provide youth and communities of color with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to develop careers that prompt economic mobility. Hack The Hood offers various programs and mentorship opportunities that set their members up for success at no cost. In addition to supporting learners between the ages of 16 and 25 as they explore the tech world, they also provide small business with opportunities and education to help grow their businesses.
Hack The Hood reports a stunning, “96% efficacy in improving employability skills such as communication, career awareness, and career navigation skills”, and a 73% increase in feelings of belonging in the tech community among African American students.
The Hidden Genius Project
With the mission to train young Black men in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills, The Hidden Genius Project is empowering students to realize their potential and grow their careers.
Founded in 2012 by Jason Young, Isaak Hayes, Kurt Collins, Kilimanjaro Robbs, and Tracy Moore, The Hidden Genius Project has helped thousands of young Black Men cultivate their tech skills. With mentorship programs, community partnerships, advising, and more, The Hidden Genius Project reports a 98% high school graduation rate and 95% post-secondary education matriculation of participants.
The Hidden Genius Project’s most acclaimed program is a 15-month Intensive Immersion Program that operates on a holistic mentorship experience to help students entering 9th-11th grade hone their tech skills. They also offer Catalyst Programs, free introductory technical workshops that help students dip their toes in the tech world.
Black Professionals in Tech Network
For professionals already working in tech, The Black Professionals in Tech Network is helping to connect workers with competitive jobs. From their website, BPTN says their mission is, “transforming the tech industry’s future by enabling communities of Black professionals to connect, learn and grow”.
Founded by Lekan Olawoye, BPTN has services for both candidates and companies. For candidates, they offer networking opportunities, mentorships, and employment/ training. For already established companies, they have partnerships, talent acquisition tools, community building, and mentorship. The Black Professionals in Tech Network will be streaming from the BFUTR Global Tech Summit in Toronto this October on their website Obsidi.
Black Women Talk Tech
In 2015, co-founders Esosa Ighodaro and Regina Gwynn set out to create a space where Black women in tech could network, build community, and share their ideas with other Black women. They created Black Women Talk Tech to bring their knowledge to women throughout the tech industry to help them better their skills and reach their business goals.
BWTT’s conference has been touring for nearly 8 years and can be found all over the world. They also offer partner initiatives, membership opportunities, online courses, and the Black Students Talk Tech program which helps students at HBCU’s develop skills they can take to the entrepreneurial world. They also have a job board to help connect Black women with career opportunities.
Black Tech Pipeline
Paris Chandler’s start as founder and CEO of Black Tech Pipeline isn’t the usual story. After starting the hashtag #BlackTechTwitter, Chandler saw a huge wave of tech leaders looking to be connected with Black talent. 2 years after the hashtag’s blowup, Candler launched her company Black Tech Pipeline to fill this desire. The website hosts a job board where employers can post offerings and be connected with employees. By providing a hub for talent and opportunities to connect, Chandler’s company is bringing awareness to underrepresented tech workers by providing jobs, educational resources and programs, scholarship and funding opportunities (BTP).
AWS Impact Accelerator
For Black entrepreneurs, the hurdles of starting a business are tenfold, especially in the tech industry. A large part of this disparity is due to the funding and mentorship gap between Black owned and white owned businesses. In April 2022, Amazon Web Services set out to help bridge that divide with the announcement of their AWS Impact Accelerator for Black founders.
The program was designed to help Black founders reach opportunities that have always been a given for white founders. In addition to AWS tech access, tailored training, mentorship, conferences, and more, each business accepted into the cohort was given a $225,000 investment to help get their feet off the ground. You can check out the 25 selected startups here.
Behind the barrier of opportunity, there are hundreds of thousands of undiscovered tech geniuses waiting to discover their true potential. If you want to learn more about any of the programs we talked about in this post, check out their websites below.
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The Black Professionals in Tech Network