The technology industry has a gender issue.
There are several powerful initiatives and organizations such as Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code and Google’s Made With Code working to fill the tech-talent pipeline with qualified women. And now Black Girls Rock! has announced Girls Rock Tech! to bridge the existing gap. Girls Rock Tech! is a part of Black Girls Rock! Queens’ Camp for Leadership and Excellence, which takes place from July 25 to August 9.
The nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting positive and diverse images of women of color in media is also working to close the race, gender and class gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions by empowering girls to explore the options in STEM, as well as support women pursuing STEM degrees and careers. Although women occupy close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs; there has been little change throughout the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Not to mention, overall women of color in tech represent less than three percent of the professionals in the industry. Girls Rock Tech! is designed as an international network and pipeline initiative that develops, supports and connects female innovators in STEM and social change, BGR stated in a press packet.
“As a woman in a male-dominated field, I think it’s important to support women who are minorities in STEM careers while also empowering a new generation of girls to see themselves as STEM leaders,” said Beverly Bond, Black Girls Rock! founder and CEO, in a press statement.
The program was piloted during the Black Girls Rock! Queens camp last year via robotics and coding courses. After seeing measurable results, Bond and team want to foster innovative thinking, tech skills and problem-solving capabilities in the next class of girls. While Black Girls Tech! will begin as part of the summer programming, there are plans to expand it into a year-long offering that’ll include mentorship, internship opportunities, on-line and in-person events and college preparatory and career development.
Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites.