Tallahassee, FL- Black Girls Code is a non-profit organization that educates young girls of color in STEM-related skills. The San Francisco-based initiative, founded in 2011, works to break down racial barriers in the technology field for African-American women.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Founder Kimberly Bryant studied electrical engineering as a young college student. As she continued her studies, she began to feel culturally isolated, usually being the only African-American woman in her classes.The National Center for Women & Information Technology says black women comprised only 3 percent of the computer workforce. Bryant sought to educate girls to break the stereotypes that women of color have no interest in technology careers.
McKeever E. Conwell, an instructor at the non-profit organization Code Fever understands the reasoning behind the minority representation in STEM fields. “It’s not that Black or minority children aren’t smart enough, [it’s that] their school systems aren’t good enough.”
Schools in low-income areas are often given second hand materials and books from highly ranked schools that are often outdated. Kimberly Bryant’s goal is to reach into communities that lack resources to promote digital education.”The scarcity of Black women in this field has little to do with lack of interest and more to do with lack of resources and opportunities and she wants to be able to provide a space where these resources and opportunities are available.”
Sandra Horne, staff at Black Girls Code says that although getting students motivated may be a challenge, with the proper approach and care, they can be cultivated into great leaders.
“My favorite part about working with Black Girls Code is the look on a girl’s face when she first learns something new,” Horne said. “We teach girls to value themselves first, so they can be confident in their skills. Learning to code is like holding the key to endless possibilities in technology. Coding turns people into creators, where they can make their own worlds and in turn promote a positive, sustainable change. That’s the message we aim to send with each session here at Black Girls Code.”
Last fall, a web series was launched to introduce Black Girls Code and the type of projects they complete. Through the documentary, viewers can follow the Black Girls Code team as they teach young girls to code and build websites. The lessons help students become fluent in programming languages, preparing them for the rapidly growing demand in computing careers.
Bryant also states, “There is an ever-present need for educational reform, as many students in low-income communities are being crippled by the need to pass standardized tests as opposed to being nurtured by a well-rounded curriculum.”
Many hope the web series will boost awareness of the initiative. The organization plans to continue its expansion. It hopes to make a greater impact in schools around the country.
By, Joyce Philippe
With contributions from Theatlantablackstar.com and blackgirlscode.com
Video, Black Girls Code