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Photo Credit: and NPR

“So, if we hadn’t come, you would’ve been the only Black participant in the room.” 

As my friend brought this up, the somber reality of the tech industry dawned on me: the under-representation of People of Color in Tech

But before we dissect this topic, let’s start from the beginning. 

As my coding bootcamp came to an end on October 31st, I was hungry and excited to further develop my technical skills in programming and to find my own niche in Tech. So, I used my network to gain access to an exclusive invitational at the Capital One Headquarter in Richmond, Virginia, thanks to  #GenHERation! I was particularly interested in the Capital One Developer Associate (CODA) Internship because their target audience included people like myself, from non-STEM and historically underrepresented backgrounds to build the next pipeline of technologically-savvy individuals.

The event started off with an introduction from Shavonne Gordon, the Head of Diversity Recruiting and US Card Talent Acquisition at Capital One, who graciously shared her story, her truth, and her identities with us. Afterward, we had an all-women panelists of six Capital One, Full-time employees who also shared their journey with us. We were also given the time to network, find other opportunities with Capital One (highly recommend the Summit programs for College Freshman and Sophomores), have our resume reviewed, and participate in an ad challenge using the theme of Capital One. At the end, I got some insight into the company’s culture and was happy to know that they valued mentoring, empowerment, and self-development. 

So, it was on the drive back to DC and while reminiscing the highlight of the day that my friend reminded me that we were only THREE black women out of 22 invitees. Since I was the one who invited her to the invitational and she in turn invited her friend, also a black woman, my friend reminded me that I would’ve been alone in the room, nodding my head and relating to almost all of the stories that Shavonne shared. 

GenHERation Capital One Invitational, November 2019 participants

I came to learn that such anecdotes such were not uncommon within the technology field, and despite the massive amounts of attention and discussion about diversity and inclusion, 

“the Kapor Center notes that women make up only 25% of the tech workforce, and Black or Latinx adults combined make up just 15% of the tech workforce. A mere 6% of Fortune500 CEOs are female (and don’t even ask about women with intersectional identities). And our recent research shows that representation, retention, and sense of belonging among underrepresented groups remains below 30% in the tech industry.” View Full Article here. 

In juxtaposition, my Java coding cohort at MC, in my opinion, was the epitome of what the technology industry should look like. We had an array (list) of people from diverse ethnic background (the majority of the class were POCs), educational background (from international studies, to health care, education, and even TV and film production), and other identities that contributed to the advancement of the class!  So, to me, the current state of the tech industry does not seem representative of the diversity of people who are actually #grinding, #hustling, and #persevering to have their skills, voices, and contribution recognized in technology. And this is a problem, a disparity, that I am willing to help solve by participating in CODA and learning to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in an environment conducive to inclusion, mentoring, and empowerment.

Hope to join the Team soon…    

Special Thanks to GenHERation Founder and CEO, Katlyn Grasso (left) for facilitating the event and empowering women all the way! Photo credit: Bezawit Habtesellassie

Anne-Marcelle Kouame

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