It has been estimated that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-related jobs in the U.S. and while African-American, Latina, and Native American women are considered prolific users of technology only around 3 percent of high-tech jobs are filled by African-American women. Kimberly Bryant wants to move this group from being seen as simply consumers of technology to being its creators.
Earning her degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University, Bryant went to work in the private sector honing her skills at companies like DuPont, Merck, and Pfizer. She had spent most of her career being the only African-American woman working in her field and after attending many conferences and hearing the lament that there aren’t many minority women working in engineering because there aren’t any trained for the work she started thinking it might be up to her to change this trend.
She was also inspired on a personal level by her 12 year old daughter who was interested in technology and computing but learned pretty quickly how the field was skewed towards encouraging males to be programmers.
Wanting to help guide minority women into high-tech fields Bryant created her own startup, Black Girls CODE, in 2011. The vision for Black Girls CODE is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. Using workshops and after school programs to introduce computer coding lessons in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails to young girls from underrepresented communities, Bryant hopes to prove to the world that girls of every color have the skills to become the programmers of tomorrow and give underprivileged girls a chance to become the masters of their technological worlds.
For her work in bridging the digital divide Bryant has been honored many times including being named a White House Champion of Change Tech Inclusion in 2013 and being the Inaugural TechCrunch Include Diversity Award Winner in 2016.
Written by Angela Goad