Black Girls CODE founder talks tech

Jordannah Elizabeth | 3/8/2018, 2:42 p.m.
It has been announced that the Black Girls CODE Organization, founded by electrical engineer Kimberly Bryant, will be collaborating with ...
Kimberley Bryant, founder of Black Girls CODE

So, seeing my daughter going along a similar path really spurred me into action.

AmNews: Isn’t interesting how a handful of Black women can make your world feel safe? When we see one or two Black women in leadership roles, that seems to be enough for us as young Black women mentees to move ahead, but Black Girls CODE is creating a culture! How young can a coder be to join the BGC community?

Bryant: We start at 7 years, but we also have girls as young as 6 participate in the program, and we try to provide opportunities to stay engaged all the way through high school. Now, we’re working to create programs for alumni to come back, give back and become involved.

AmNews: What type of sectors of coding and technology can the girls learn?

Bryant: We try to introduce them to as many different areas of technology as we possibly can. We teach more traditional web design like HTML and CSS with the “Build a Website in a Day,” workshop, but we go beyond that to teach robotics and mobile app design and game design. We also focus on virtual reality and we do things with electronics. We really try to give them as much exposure to the industry as we can. As new technology begins to emerge, we begin to engage them in learning those tools also like artificial intelligence and data design and analysis.

AmNews: What is your hope for the future? Do you hope that 10 or 20 years down the line do you think the technology culture will change or at the very least, do you hope the industry will be ready for these young women?

Bryant: As we go into our seventh year of existence, we’re working to support readiness, but that is the thing that really worries me the most, the thing that keeps me up at night. Looking back at the tech industry, six or seven years in looking back at the industry and the numbers, and those marriages that we hear, and the anecdotes that we see have changed that much, and has gotten worse. That is worrisome to me as a mother. My daughter is 19 and in a few years, she’ll be in the workforce.  And for all the girls who are in our program, it’s something that concerns me because I understand that although we’ve done all this work and worked to build their self-confidence and their skill set within this field, the field will not necessarily going to be welcoming.

So, part of our work is to make sure that we build up resilience, and work to be very transparent and have conversations about what this industry truly looks like, so they have the ability to not only survive, but thrive in these potentially hostile workspaces, but also making sure we can identify ways to point them in the path of least resistance, be that in finding the best colleges, to looking at how we can partner with companies and create job opportunities where we feel that our girls will be supported.

Do I think that will change the culture? Yes, I do. So, I think that part of the work that we’re doing is creating a new crop of individuals that come from a background where they feel a sense of community with one another. I think the industry will change when we are in mass and we have the numbers.