Nowadays, people are more aware that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) are not simply the future. Arguably, both are the most important sectors driving economic growth and academic tracks today. From an professional standpoint, both STEM and STEAM are natural segues into the technology industry. 

With concerns around digital divides and achievement gaps, it is understandable that leaders in the Black community are pushing even harder to ensure that youth and adults, making career pivots have access to opportunity. More importantly, pointing to representation in the tech field gives prospective employees and students choosing academic paths a relatable and attainable goal. Which happens to be the perfect pivot into; currently, women make up 35% of the current tech workforce. This is such a significant improvement from the early 2000’s when women made up approximately 9%.

In 2023, women held only about 24% of tech leadership-type roles in various industries across the globe, a significant indicator of the challenges and shifts the tech landscape faced.

Women in tech have played a crucial role from the very beginning, exemplified by figures like Katherine Johnson of ‘Hidden Figures.’

But despite significant contributions, women’s roles in tech and science-backed fields were soon eclipsed by men, leading to their virtual exclusion from these domains and redirection towards ‘soft skill’ industries like education. Modern-day parents, educators, and community leaders to reintroduce women (particularly Black women) into the tech conversation, easily point to the following women who are at the forefront of their respective niches in the industry.

Entrepreneurs In Tech

Annie Jean-Baptiste 

Working at Google is fairly prestigious by default. But if you are the director of product inclusion and equity and are also an angel investor, that is a reason to stop and take notice. Annie Jean-Baptiste not only holds an amazing position at Google but also launched Equity Army, a consultancy that supports design and production goals while centering equity and inclusion along the way. 

STEM & STEAM Women In Tech

Aisha Bowe

It is not often a person can say they are a rocket scientist and have the credentials to back it up. Aisha Bowe is a former NASA rocket scientist turned founder and CEO of STEMBoard, an innovator, think tank and research and development agency that partners with organizations and government agencies to develop new concepts, technologies and products. Initially launched in Arlington, Virginia, STEMBoard has since expanded coast to coast with operations in Maryland, Florida, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. 

Barbara Salami

Most people became intimately familiar with Moderna during the COVID-19 pandemic as they raced to develop and distribute a vaccine to reduce the spread and impact of the novel virus. But did you know that a major part of pharmaceuticals includes marketing? Barbara Salami is the Vice President, Digital for Commercial, meaning that she oversees marketing materials to help healthcare providers, government health agencies and other patient care partners effectively educate health populations to create a more informed and proactive community that safeguards health. 

Female Accelerators In Tech

Amanda Spann

Many startups get their start in incubators and accelerators. While they are technically different, both organizations work with entrepreneurs to help them either strategize and launch business ideas or scale existing business models. Amanda Spann is a serial app entrepreneur who realized there was a need for non-tech savvy people to develop apps even if they did not have a background in coding or development. She is the founder of The App Accelerator, a program that helps non-tech entrepreneurs ideate mobile applications and websites. 

Fern Johnson

Fern Johnson, serves as PepsiCo’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Infrastructure and Operations. Johnson embodies an IT executive leader renowned for global transformation, strategic IT planning, and fostering vendor relations. Equipped with what many would consider to be a distinguished career blending business, change management, operations, and technology expertise, she has steered the development and execution of innovative technology solutions aligned with overarching growth objectives encompassing revenue, profit, and competitive advantage. Fern champions collaborative and inclusive work environments, crafting programs and strategies that harmonize stakeholders’ objectives. Her approach is marked by analytical prowess, decisiveness, and unwavering integrity, allowing her to swiftly identify issues, articulate a vision, and instigate transformative change.

Jewel Burks Solomon

Sometimes you need to work within an existing organization to help the next generation progress. Jewel Burks Solomon was the head of Google for Startups for Google US. This means that she focuses on helping domestic entrepreneurs and founders — primarily from underrepresented communities — to take advantage of the wealth of tools Google provides to businesses. Her work is recognized globally with features in Forbes 30 Under 30 and Ebony Magazine’s Power 100. These days, she’s a managing partner at Collab Capital, an angel investment group that prioritizes providing access to capital for Black entrepreneurs.

Jacky Wright, serves as McKinsey & Company’s Senior Partner and Chief Technology and Platform Officer. Jackie Wright embodies a a global technology leader’s prowess, driving significant business transformation and advocating for social causes. Wright comes forth with more than two decades of experience, pioneering innovation, sustainable business models, and digital transformation for leading global institutions. At McKinsey, she holds the esteemed position of the firm’s inaugural chief technology and platform officer, steering the technology portfolio and strategy while being a senior partner. Wright accelerates technology integration in client engagements and pioneers new platforms for organizational transformation and growth. She oversees McKinsey’s internal technology unit, catering to over 40,000 colleagues across 66 countries.

Female Innovators In Tech

Angie Jones

Owning patents is no small feat and Angie Jones owns 27 of them. While she is currently a developer relations executive, international keynote speaker, and workshop instructor leading courses on software development and decentralized technologies, she also has the academic prowess to back up her accolades. Along with being a certified Java programmer, she is also a former Java champion who has been featured in Ebony Magazine, and Business Insider and was listed as part of the nation’s 30 under 30 tech talents. 

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

As much as society would wish otherwise, governments do not always work seamlessly with all segments of society. In particular, marginalized groups are most often shut out of opportunities or fall through the cracks within government programs. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is a former executive at Honor who is now the cofounder of Promise — a technology company that works with government agencies and utilities to ensure that programs or solutions created are people-centric and inclusive. 

Inspiring Future Generations

The saying, “If you can see it, you can be it” is critical especially when working to motivate children from underrepresented communities. Black women in tech help to inspire a new generation of coders, entrepreneurs, software engineers and innovators that will not only push the culture forward, but ensure that the future is more inclusive as well.