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Despite all of the claims being made with regards to the tech industry, the fact remains that it is still a world that is dominated by white men by an overwhelming margin. A study by the National Center For Women & Information Technology done in 2020 found that women of color comprised only 11% of those in the computing and mathematical workforce as surveyed over a twelve-year period from 2007 to 2019. Black women made up just 3% of that total. Given those continuing issues, Black women are still continuing to carve out a place of change within tech to change it for the better. Here are five Black women of note that it would do well to learn about and pay attention to for the promising future ahead.
1. Olabisi Boyle
Olabisi Boyle has become a significant voice in the automotive industry, with her work focusing on improving connectivity utilizing technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Currently, she is the vice president of Product Planning and Mobility Strategy of Hyundai Motors’ North America division. In this role, she is the arbiter of decisions guiding the strategic path of the line of Hyundai vehicles in the U.S. which includes future innovations and connected car technology including payment technology solutions. She took over in 2020 after being the vice president of Connected Commerce overseeing the development of in-car payment technology for Visa, as well as previous positions with Fiat/Chrysler and Ford Motor Company.
2. Cierra McDonald
Cierra McDonald has been a trailblazer for Black women in tech and gaming well as STEM. The senior game developer now serves as the Principal Program Manager for Xbox at Microsoft. McDonald has been with Microsoft for 17 years, working on several standout features for the popular gaming system including its Smart Delivery system which bridges the gap between the older and newest versions of the console in addition to being a senior game developer. Aiming to further increase the visibility and diversity of Black female characters in video games, she also serves as the organizer of the “Blacks In Gaming” event at the Game Developers Conference which is a premier international event for gaming professionals.
3. Michee Smith
Michee Smith is a Product Manager on the Data Privacy and Protection Team for Google Cloud. Smith began her career at Microsoft, working on coding and designing software as an engineer to test products for partner systems before getting following a desire to learn more about security and privacy. Her work with data risk assessment and exploring how data collection and its impacts on consumers and companies led her to work more on transparency when it comes to cloud computing. With Google, she specializes in helping to ensure that the company provides robust data deletion and retention along with helping companies get detailed information on who tracks their data with transparency tools that are constantly updated.
4. Esosa Ighodaro-Johnson
Esosa Ighodaro-Johnson is the co-founder of BlackWomenTalkTech, a tech conference, and platform for Black women who are tech entrepreneurs to gain further visibility for their initiatives and easier access to funding and networking. She made the transition from working in finance to tech in 2012, becoming a co-founder of Cosign as her first business, which was a service encouraging affiliate marketing through product recommendations on social media making it easier for people to shop online. To date, there are 2,700 Black women tech entrepreneurs who have registered with the platform which has also started a separate conference event for students.
5. Amanda Spann
Amanda Spann has an extensive tech background, creating a number of apps including CultureCrush and AfriDate geared towards helping singles across the Black diaspora meet. She was also a co-founder of Blerdology, a social enterprise that resulted in the organization of the first hackathon exclusively for African-Americans in tech. Currently, Spann has launched The App Accelerator, which helps non-tech entrepreneurs with the tools and skills needed to create their own mobile and web-based applications.