These days, most everyone knows that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) are not just the future, they are arguably the most important sectors driving economic growth and academic tracks today. Professionally, STEM and STEAM are natural segues into the tech 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 who are 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.
Women in tech have played a crucial role from the beginning, as exemplified by figures like Katherine Johnson of “Hidden Figures.” Yet, despite their 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. Today, parents, educators, and community leaders to reintroduce women, particularly Black women, into the tech conversation, can easily point to the following women who are at the forefront of their respective niches in the industry.
Entrepreneurs In Tech
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Female Innovators In Tech
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.
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.