While the allWomen fight has always been to get more women into tech, there are some women that we have to fight harder for. Understanding the way that race intersects with gender, we as a community cannot ignore the need to shout louder for women of color and in particular Black women. That’s why, we’re taking a moment to honour the work of Black women in tech, while acknowledging that it’s on us to learn more and work harder to get diverse voices into our industry.
Well before diversity in tech was a trending topic, Black women and other women of color were fighting their way into tech disciplines, proving that they deserve to be taken seriously, in order to use their intellect for the better.
But the challenges of doing so were immense: first, managing – against the odds – to enter a mainly white male space. Overcoming stereotypes of gender and race in the process. While also standing out as a powerhouse member of the team in order to earn the place to stay.
Despite the perpetual lack of diversity in tech, (less than 0.5% of Silicon Valley tech leadership positions are held by Black women & Black women account for less than 4% of female led startups) there is a rich history of Black women in tech that deserves attention. And we all need to do better in taking the time to honour it.
That’s why, we’re taking this moment to share some of the Black women of tech, without whom this field would not have advanced to where it is today…
In the 50s, Black women, like Annie Easley & Katherine Johnson, were recruited by NASA as ‘human computers’ and would later go on to become some of the first Black female computer scientists. Their work paved the way for more badass women like Marsha Rhea Williams, the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science, and Ursula Burns, the first Black woman to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 Company.
Since that point, Black women have made their mark on the various disciplines within the tech world like the Black women of UX: Mariam Braimah, Product Designer at Netflix, and Leonora Porter, Designer at Salesforce. The same can be said about Black women in Product Management like Maryanna Quigless, the Product Lead at Facebook & Co-Founder of BlackPMs.com.
But truly one of the most powerful places that we can lend our support is towards tech companies with Black female founders such as Elpha, a community for women in tech, BYP, a platform that connects Black professionals, and Rainchq, a finance app for women. These companies work to create more inclusive products to enrich the future of our technology, and they deserve our attention.
As a community that supports the mission of getting more women into tech, it’s crucial for us to put a focus on empowering smaller communities within our larger community. We commit to upholding that promise.