Women in the tech industry are few and far between. Although more women than ever are entering the work world, only 25 percent of them find their way to Silicon Valley. Of that 25 percent, African American women make up a mere 1.5 percent. This is the problem that startup accelerator NewME is striving to fix and Mashable.com reports that the San-Francisco program based is working.
Tech extraordinaire Angela Benton, who is also a black woman, knows first-hand how tough it is to break into the tech scene and observed the few African Americans she met along the way. While Benton believes that the education system’s lack of exposure to tech careers to minorities puts them at an initial disadvantage, there are other factors that contribute to small minority and women numbers in the tech field.
“We have to factor in other things, like access to mentors and role models, and even very simple things, like explaining to individuals how to even start to enter the field is huge,” she told Mashable.
Her startup accelerator is a 12-week program that helps to support and nurture the big ideas of aspiring minority tech entrepreneurs. NewMe provides mentorship, discussion and networking opportunities. At the end of each program is a “demo day,” which allows participants the chance to present their ideas and products to well-connected attendees. The accelerator has two programs each year, with an average of about eight participants each session spending the entire spring or fall living and working in San Francisco while they get their ideas started.
“NewME participants’ stories about their experiences in the tech industry are so varied,” Benton said. “I get to talk to the founders that we have in the accelerator, and I get to hear what people have experienced nationally, via the nearly 1,000 people we have in NewME community.”
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