Kimberly Bryant is tackling tech monocultures head‑on

This is the ninth entry in the series Honoring Black History.

A modern revolutionary, Kimberly Bryant left her lucrative biotech job to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry by starting Black Girls Code. It all started when her daughter Kia—an avid gamer—expressed interest in learning to program at the age of 10.

Kia was attending a summer camp for game development at Stamford at the time. She was one of only a handful of girls and she was the only person of color in the program. On top of feeling isolated, Kia and the other girls were not getting nearly the same amount of attention and direction as the boys.

Between being perplexed by the lack of diversity and support in Kia’s summer camp and hearing the constant cop-out of “there just aren’t enough qualified women ready to take on tech jobs,” Kimberly decided to tackle the “pipeline” issue head-on. After all, little had changed since Kimberly had grown up a self-professed nerd in the 1970s when it came to role models for women in tech, let alone women of color. She was determined to change that for her daughter’s generation and founded Black Girls Code.

Her program offers after school and summer camp programs in programming, robotics, web design, and mobile app development to young women aged 7–17. And many of their programs are free. Those that aren’t offer needs-based scholarships. All of this is in an effort to train a million girls by 2040. It’s an ambitious, but incredibly worthy goal!

What I really like about Kimberly Bryant’s approach is that it isn’t just about tackling the underrepresentation of women, especially women of color, in tech. It’s also about helping young women engage with the platforms they use daily—phones, tablets, etc.—as creators, not just consumers. And ultimately it’s about creating career opportunities for these young women, helping to reduce the staggeringly high percentage of Black women who live below the poverty line in America: 26% according to 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s also worth noting that the same study found that that same data set identified the nation’s highest poverty rates (46%) are among Black families headed by single Black women, like Kimberly.

Kimberly Bryant’s work is incredibly important and I am inspired by her willingness to risk her own comfort for the betterment of both current and future generations of young Black women growing up in this country (and beyond).


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