Diversity and inclusion is not for the faint of heart

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When you choose to serve in the field of Diversity and Inclusion you must possess a level of fearlessness, passion and a conviction to “shrug it off.” While engaging in this work, you may not be the most popular, however what other people say about you is not your problem. You have a job to do, a mission to complete, and a duty to be the voice of those who are ignored. The work is not about you, it’s about creating an environment where EVERYONE is valued, supported and respected and sometimes that means standing alone.

Sitting in silence, sugar coating the truth, and avoiding uncomfortable conversations doesn’t serve anyone. If the sole purpose of the work behind diversity and inclusion is a nice to do, enabling someone to check a box, the collection of awards, accessing money from grants or funds for filling seats with a diverse audience, etc. it will show in the results. Often times it shows up as Diversity without Inclusion and Equality.

The work of Diversity and Inclusion is not about one person or entity and it’s not for the faint of heart.

 For more information on speaking or event inquiries contact:  info@sisters-code.org or call 313-575-4078

Decisions about the neighborhood, should include people from the “hood.” – The value of diversity of thought, experiences and socio-economic status

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Experience has taught me that when making decisions about the neighborhood, its imperative to have people who are from or livein the “hood” at the table. Many people are deeming the City of Detroit the “Comeback City.” While I’m truly excited about some of the movement in Detroit, I don’t call it a comeback as we never went away. There are people who have been here, chose to stay, and essentially held the city down. Many urban cities are finding themselves in a similar situation as they are also in the midst of revitalization efforts.

There is not a shortage of opinions about the future of Detroit but often times the people from the neighborhoods are glaringly absent from the conversation. The neighborhood issues are often seen as the problem, however the people who live there are not asked to contribute to the solution.

Years ago I found myself with a seat at the table after questioning Detroit’s property tax payment process. In 1999, the Governor of Michigan signed Public Act 123 which shortens the time property owners have to pay their delinquent taxes before foreclosing on their property. According to a report there had been more than 150,000 tax foreclosures within eight years of the law being signed. Even more alarming is that many of the homes were occupied which would leave families on the streets. There was a story of a Senior Citizen who experienced a water leak in her home, which resulted in a $4,000 water bill. The bill was transferred to her property taxes and at an 18% interest rate she ultimately ended up owing $12,000 in taxes and lost her home due to non-payment.

Interestingly, I noticed that my friends who lived in the suburbs were allowed to pay their property taxes online with a credit card. I began to explore the possibility of Detroiters having an option to engage government online to pay their taxes. Although I expected some push back, I was extremely amazed that the idea was met with intense opposition from some of the people with “a seat at the table.” Although the majority of the people looked like me, the conversation took on a life of stereotypes and some unconscious bias about why “they” did not need or “they” wouldn’t use, or “they” wouldn’t know how to use an online payment system. I remember the thought entering my head shouting “Hold Up!” – I was born and raised in Detroit – I’m the “THEY” the group was talking about! If I was asleep, the comments had awaken me.

Full transparency: I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced thinking you have arrived in life due to financial status, job title, education or all of the “stuff” you’ve accumulated. Well, I realized in that moment that although I thought I was pretty accomplished, my college degrees didn’t matter as there would always be a moment when my family, my community, my child and I, would be considered a “they” and there would potentially be people making decisions about what our options should be. Trust me, I got over myself quickly!

While I’m excited that my voice was finally heard and my team and I successfully implemented the first property tax e-government system in Detroit, it was evident that the non-technical real work had just begun. It was evident that diversity went way beyond race and gender and it was then that I further realized that diversity of thought, experiences and socio-economic status were imperative and often overlooked. More importantly I understood the responsibility of those who have a seat at the table.

I’m not claiming that our e-system decreased the rates of foreclosures, but it afforded Detroiters with an option they deserved and pushed a thoughtful conversation around stereotypes and norms. Without diversity at the table, issues are overlooked, stories are not shared, real circumstances are not considered and the complexities of seemingly good ideas are not questioned. Also, it goes both ways as I gained invaluable knowledge from the people who disagreed with the idea, thought differently, and challenged my views.

Hey, this is not to say that the people making the decisions aren’t coming from a good place as many of them are. This is not a to belittle the efforts of those who want to help the people living in the neighborhood, as that’s also appreciated. I’m just provoking a conversation around…what if? What if, the people who grew up in the neighborhood, live in the neighborhood, have not only seen but experienced the very issues people are trying to solve, were included to foster a deeper conversation, potentially disrupt the plan (which could open the path to a better plan) and help develop a solution?

There is no room for the Ego in Diversity and Inclusion efforts. If the decision makers truly are seeking equality, progress, enhancing the quality of life in the neighborhoods – the glaring absence of people from the people you are attempting to serve should always be questioned and seats made available.

Let me be clear, if you are fortunate enough to be invited to a decision making table and there is a lack of diversity of thought, experiences, and socio-economic status it’s your reasonable service to speak-up, ask the hard questions, kick fear to the curb, and ensure that “diversity and inclusion” are no longer buzz words that equate to making decisions for the perceived “underserved” who can’t possibly contribute to outcomes for their own neighborhoods.

For more information on speaking or event inquiries contact:  info@sisters-code.org or call 313-575-4078

We can’t find qualified women or people of color – On that I call “Bull”​ – Diversity and Inclusion in Technology

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After college I was an aspiring Mortician who took a chance and entered a corporate coding bootcamp. I learned to program in seven languages in 13-weeks and emerged as a mainframe programmer. That decision to venture into technology changed the trajectory of my life. However I was often the only woman and African-American at the table. The lack of women and people of color in technology is not new, however we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve always done and expect a different result. Unfortunately as we try to bridge the gender and racial gap in technology, the people we are targeting are missing from the tech inclusion discussion. There’s no need to continue “guessing” what we think. Simply cut out the middle man, invite us to the decision making table and we can tell you in real time. We have real experiences and can offer real solutions. A major example of being deliberate and thinking outside the box is the partnership between Google and Howard University to set up a satellite campus at Google’s headquarters in an effort to bring more African American computer science students into the tech industry. This is a perfect example of Diversity and Inclusion at work!

As statistics are looming about the lack of tech talent to fill jobs by 2020, diversity has become a buzzword in corporations and bootcamps are popping up everywhere. Having served as a Chief Diversity Officer for many years, I definitely understand first hand that unless Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are formulated by a group diverse in thought, race, gender, experience, etc., the strategy will more than likely fail. All too often during these conversations, everyone around the table looks the same, comes from the same background and thinks the same. This can even happen within a diverse group, which is why intentional inclusion is so very important.

Unfortunately there is no one there to speak from a different perspective, initiate the uncomfortable conversations, or question the status quo. Left unchecked, organizations will continue to formulate and believe the excuse, “We tried to hire diverse candidates, however we just couldn’t find qualified women or people of color to fill the positions”. On that I call “Bull!” 

Another trend is the number of bootcamps popping up targeting the underrepresented and untapped communities. Many bootcamps are receiving financial incentives in grants and other funds to fill their seats with people of color and women. While there are some that are doing a tremendous job, there are still questions that should be asked. Who is at the table to ask the questions and foster an environment of accountability? A few questions that jump in my mind are: How many women and people of color apply to the bootcamp? How many are actually interviewed? Most importantly how many are accepted? Out of those not accepted or interviewed, what’s the reason? If you claim you are providing jobs, how many are truly placed in “tech jobs”? How many don’t complete the camp, and why? This is not an indictment, however you can spin a story, but the data does not lie and the results can foster a robust and much needed conversation about next steps.

If you represent an organization or a boot camp and you are really serious about Diversity and Inclusion in Technology, its up to you ensure that your organization is intentional about inviting a diverse group of people into the conversation. If you find that the target audience is absent from the table, speak up. If you are a person of color or woman and have a seat at the table, and are afraid to speak up (it’s OK – there’s no judgement) I ask that you consider giving up your seat to someone who is willing to be the voice of those who are not being heard.

My greatest fear is to “say nothing” and hear people making excuses in the year 2020 about how they tried to engage people of color or give us an opportunity, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out. No matter your race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, etc. Diversity and Inclusion is about EVERYONE feeling valued, supported and respected.

If you’re contemplating bridging the gap in Diversity and Inclusion in Technology, are you willing to do something different? If you feel stuck or want to continue the conversation…Let’s talk!

For more information on speaking or event inquiries contact:  info@sisters-code.org or call 313-575-4078

 

2016 Goals – Consider this before setting any goals

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2016 Pre-Goal Consideration Idea: I thought of this last year and it worked for me, so I feel safe sharing it with you.

Before you write down any goals take some time to be still and think about your overall “LIFE INTENT and PURPOSE.” By doing this you :

1. Become very clear about the engagements, movement, activities and conversations you will participate in and identify those which align to your Intent and Purpose (great way to say “yes” or “no” to opportunities or obstacles)

2. Won’t rush to write your goals (this is not a race and you are not in competition). Sit with your intent and purpose until it feels real to you. This may mean writing goals in February, be kind to yourself and know that’s OK.

3. Identify your three words. Write down three words that epitomize who you need to be, characteristics warranted, or actions you feel support your Intent and Purpose. You may write down 30 words at first, but take all the time you need to identify the top three.

My three words are: BOLD, FOCUSED, and PRESENT.

4. Write down your Intent and Purpose and three words. Keep these in front of you as you write your goals. You will find that it will be much easier to write goals that are aligned with your statement and eliminate goals that may be things you feel obligated to do but aren’t truly in your heart, and simply look good on paper.

5. Throughout the year, life will happen and your goals may change. If you keep your Intent and Purpose in front of you, you will find it easy to consciously adjust your goals. Although life changes, the essence of who you are (your intent and purpose pretty much remains a constant).

My intent and purpose is to motivate, empower, inspire, educate, mobilize, and give back, so I truly hope this helps someone to take the angst out of goal planning and to empower you to make this process your own personal journey.

Wishing you all a great New Year! I’m SO very excited about the amazing things that are waiting me in 2016 Looking forward to sharing the journey! #noexcuses

Sisters Code collaborates with the Ford STEAM Lab and #YesWeCode to Bring Silicon Valley to Detroit

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  • Ford STEAM Lab, a Ford Motor Company Fund program, to host a hackathon for 100 middle school students to learn software coding skills, develop solutions to education reform
  • Ford is collaborating with California-based #YesWeCode and Level Playing Field Institute, and two Detroit organizations, Sisters Code and Grand Circus, a tech training company
  • Event features a high profile panel of judges including Stephen Henderson/Detroit Free Press; Van Jones/#YesWeCode; and Skype appearance by Detroit native and rapper Big Sean
  • The hackathon will be held March 27-28 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Detroit. MSNBC will broadcast live from the hackathon on Friday, March 27

DETROIT, March 11, 2015 –Ford STEAM Lab, an educational program from the Ford Motor Company Fund, is bringing the power of Silicon Valley to Detroit with an innovative two-day hackathon to help middle school students improve their education while exploring high-tech careers.

The 100 students from five Detroit-area middle schools will learn the basics of software coding as they create and “hack” an application that will help them learn better. Their projects will be judged by a high profile panel of judges as they compete for bragging rights and more than $30,000 in scholarships and awards.

“Student voice and authentic inclusion is important to students succeeding in education,” said Shawn Wilson, manager, Multicultural Community Engagement, Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Ford’s goal is to not only empower students to take control of their educational future, but also discover a potential career pathway in Michigan’s growing technology sector.”

Ford STEAM Lab is collaborating with:

  •  #YesWeCode, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization that targets low-opportunity youth and provides them with the necessary resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers.
  • Level Playing Field Institute, an educational organization based in Oakland, Calif., committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Sisters Code, a Detroit organization dedicated to helping women succeed in STEM-related fields.
  • Grand Circus, a company based in Detroit that provides training and other skills necessary to work in technology companies.
  • National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, a national organization that works on strategies to increase the graduation rate in America’s schools.

“In the new century, technology is central to middle class jobs and income. We are proud to work with partners like Ford and the Level Playing Field Institute, to support 21st Century opportunities to students in Detroit,” said Van Jones, #YesWeCode founder.

The hackathon will be held March 27-28 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center at 2826 Bagley St., Detroit, 48216.

MSNBC will broadcast live from the hackathon on Friday, March 27. More details on the program will be announced at a later date.

After learning coding skills on the first day, students will present their app ideas to a panel of judges on the second day. The panel will include Stephen Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press and co-host of Detroit Today on WDET; and Van Jones, #YesWeCode founder, and environmental and civil rights advocate.

At the conclusion of the event, students will hear via Skype about two very different success stories. Detroit native and singer/songwriter Big Sean will speak to the importance of technology in music and how it changed the music industry.

Ford STEAM Lab was launched in October 2014 to spark high potential, low opportunity student passion for technology entrepreneurship and careers in traditional STEM fields, as well as automotive design and vehicle technology. STEAM Lab adds an arts component to help students learn how to use creativity and innovation in problem solving and collaboration.  

Ford Motor Company Fund invests more than $8 million a year in scholarships and other education initiatives. In addition to the Ford STEAM Lab, Ford Fund educational programs include Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Next Generation Learning, Ford College Community Challenge and Ford Driving Dreams Tour. 

Great resume, but YOU don’t fit our corporate culture – Bridging the gender and racial gap in technology

 

 

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During my many conversations on bridging the gender and racial gap in technology, a re-occurring theme is, “Hey, I want to hire a diverse workforce, but we have a hard time finding people who fit into our corporate culture.

OK… I’m going to stop you right there and ask, “What you talking about Willis? (You would only get this if you watched the TV Show Different Strokes, and yes I think I’m pretty funny.)  More times than not, my question is met with a blank face, a stumble in words, or a look of embarrassment.  My solution:  Don’t get uptight, don’t become defensive, I come in peace…Let’s talk about it.

Often time the corporate executives I consult with aren’t consciously excluding people,   however the ” culture fit” statement and reaction to my question, suggest an unconscious bias.  That statement is a covert way of saying,:  “Uh, you don’t look or act like anyone who works here, or for that matter anyone in my circle.  So, you may be qualified, but it’s not gonna work here.”

Openly and strategically discussing the “they don’t fit into the culture” statement, has actually lead to great conversations, challenging beliefs, uncovering fear, and hiring great people who help propel the organization to new heights with a wealth of diverse thoughts, talents, and creativity.

When you speak about fitting into the culture do you mean: The candidate is certain race or gender, they’re too old,  have a percieved socio-economic status, don’t look”cool” enough, can’t speak the jargon, don’t like sports, will be the “only” at the company picnic, and the reasoning goes on.

I know the reasons listed may seem a little outlandish, but speaking from experience some of the conversations, I’ve had around corporate culture have been over the top.  I worked at a corporation where my peer, an executive pointed and said, “We treat colored people equally.”  Now, you can’t tell me that he did not have a wild definition of what a cultural fit would be and I’m grateful he didn’t have a decision on hiring me as I would still be embalming people (long story…)

I’m not implying that company culture and values aren’t important, but I’m asking you to pause and ask yourself are you using it as an “excuse” to exclude amazing candidates from the field of technology.

Bottom-line:  I’m suggesting you call a meeting with yourself and then your staff to talk about “this culture fit”…what does it REALLY mean?  Next time you say, “they don’t fit into the culture,” someone might call you on it. What will your answer be?

_____________________________

Marlin is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology.  Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more.  Marlin also serves as a media contributor on various outlets.  Marlin’s Book and Music Single empowers girls to love and believe in themselves.

Five tips for women who want to learn how to code – Bridging the gender and diversity gap in technology

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20-years ago I literally stumbled into the field of of technology, and my life was transformed.  After college I was an aspiring mortician at a local funeral home.  My day consisted of learning to embalm, consoling grieving families, and even singing and praying at the funerals.  Hey, I was every woman!

Unfortunately coding and technology are often presented in a very complex way, and it’s really not that deep.  A career in technology is accessible, you don’t need a thousand degrees, you don’t have to live in a certain area and you don’t have to look a certain way. As I work on bridging the gender and racial gap in technology, I speak with many women who feel they don’t have access to tech jobs or they lack the confidence to try.  I always say there is power in the first step, so below you will find five fun and easy tips (things you can do today) to move you closer to your technology goals:

1.  Try an introductory class.  No, not a class that costs thousands of dollars.  Before you make that type of investment, I would encourage you to try it out first.  After Sisters Code’s Weekend Website Warrior Classes, we have many women who experience coding “ah-ha” moments and go on to re-career into the field of technology or become tech entrepreneurs.  There are also some women who realize they hate coding, and I also consider that a success as they can now truly find their true life purpose.  Bottom-line:  Find a cost effective local introductory class or try an online option like codeacademy.com.

2.  Speak with other women who are in the field.   When I started my career in technology, it was great to see other women who looked like me in the field.  If you don’t know someone currently working in the tech field, don’t let that stop you.  This is where you get creative.  A few options:  Find a local women technology group, Google or Bing a woman you admire in tech and simply reach out (what’s the worst thing that could happen?)

3.  No apologies allowed.  No, you don’t know how to code.  No, you aren’t even sure what coding is.   Trust me, when I started my career in technology the only thing I knew about coding was how to spell the word.  If you are curious about entering the field of technology, don’t apologize to anyone for what you don’t know.  This is the time where you walk in with your head up high, and ask for what you want.  Focus on what you want to learn and take the necessary steps to get you there.

4.  Show up.  “Coding” is the new cool thing and the new buzz word, which means there are quite a few opportunities to  pick up this new skill.  However, I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every woman who has told me that there aren’t opportunities to learn and/or network.  The table has been set on a national level, now it’s time for you to show up and take your seat at the table.   Show up for classes, conferences, networking events and job fairs.  As the “excuse annihilator,” I can’t think of any excuse for you to stay away.

5.   Tap into your inner Swagger.  My teenage daughter would cringe at my use of that word, but I like it.  My definition of swagger is your confidence, the way you walk into the room, understanding that you deserve the best, etc.   Before you can learn to code or accomplish any other goal for that matter, you must first believe you can.  The underlying belief that you can do this, that you can accomplish this, that you can re-career into the field of technology is important.  It’s the first step…..

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Marlin is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology.  Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more.  Marlin also serves as a media contributor on WDIV’s Live in the D.  Marlin’s Book and Music Single empowers girls to love and believe in themselves.

 

 

 

Gender Diversity in Technology: Why “Awakening the Mature Geek” and targeting women to re-career into the field of technology is essential

Sister Coder "Aha Moment." The moment the code you wrote actually works!

Sister Coder “Aha Moment.” The moment the code you wrote actually works!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

he lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

- See more at: http://www.marlinpage.com/2014/gender-diversity-in-technology-why-awakening-the-mature-geek-and-targeting-older-women-to-re-career-into-the-field-of-tech-is-essential/#sthash.0hcrB0hQ.dpuf

he lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology  company to positively shift the technology gender and racial  diversity gap.

Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there.  The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.

I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology.  At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and  afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program.  I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history.  Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.

The picture in this blog shows one of  Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment.  I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday.  I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more.  After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.  Bottom-line:  I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.

We are missing the mark:  There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue.  Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.

Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap.  I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.

  1. Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  2. Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  3. Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  4. Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  5. Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce.  2% of employees are African American.
  6. LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce.  1% of employees are African American.
  7. Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
  8. Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs.  7% of employees are African American.
  9. Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
  10. HP:  Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.

As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part.  If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.

Count me in.

- See more at: http://www.marlinpage.com/2014/gender-diversity-in-technology-why-awakening-the-mature-geek-and-targeting-older-women-to-re-career-into-the-field-of-tech-is-essential/#sthash.0hcrB0hQ.dpuf

CEO Marlin Page of Sisters Code Discusses The Digital Divide During @techonomy Detroit 2014

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DETROIT – Cass Tech high school and Wayne State University graduate and CEO of Sisters Code, Marlin Page talk’s “women in tech” during Techonomy Detroit 2014 with moderator Andrew Keen of TechCrunch.

“I travel often speaking with young girls about technology” and ”When we look at this digital divide” and “We’re missing a population of women” and “We aren’t taping into this workforce,” said Marlin Page of Sisters Code.

The panel of Brian Forde of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Google’s Chris Genteel, Laura Mather of Unitive, Marlin Page of Sisters Code, and Indiegogo’s Danae Ringelmann discussed way’s to make entrepreneurship more inclusive and the tech industry more of a melting pot in America during Techonomy Detroit 2014.

See Woodlawn Post for the complete article