Tuesday, October 3, 2023

KOKOnista Of The Day: Kimberly Bryant Is The Brains Behind Black Girls Code

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Kimberly Bryant is an African American electrical engineer who worked in the biotechnology field at Genentech, Novartis Vaccines, Diagnostics, and Merck. In 2011, Bryant founded Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing technology and computer programming education to African-American girls.

Bryant was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee by a single mother amidst the Civil Rights Movement. She self-described as a “nerdy girl,” excelling in mathematics and science in school. She earned a scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University in 1985, where she planned to become a civil engineer. Enticed by technologies such as the microchip, the personal computer, and the portable cellphone, she switched her major and earned a degree in Electrical Engineering and minors in Computer Science and math.

Early in her career, Bryant held jobs at electrical companies Westinghouse Electric and DuPont. Later, Bryant would move to biotechnology and later to pharmaceutical companies, where she worked at Pfizer, Merck, and at Genentech and Novartis.

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Bryant founded Black Girls Code in 2011 after her daughter expressed an interest in learning computer programming. In her search for available courses in the Bay area, she found that none were well-suited for her daughter. They were taken mostly by boys, and rarely had any other African American girls in attendance.

Having experienced isolation herself during her time studying and working, she wanted a better environment for her daughter. Bryant hopes that this endeavor will allow young girls, especially those from minority populations, to remain involved in STEM and increase awareness within the field. African-American women make up less than 3% of the workforce in the tech industry and Black Girls Code fights to change and improve this percentage for the better.

The Memphis native is the founder and executive director of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit committed to diversifying the tech industry by helping get more girls of color into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. She’s already helped teach more than 14,000 girls around the world how to code.

Black Girls Code teaches computer programming to school-age girls in after-school and summer programs. The San Francisco-based nonprofit organisation has a goal of teaching one million black girls to code by 2040. The organisation has one chapter in Johannesburg, South Africa, with plans to add chapters in eight more cities.

Photo Credit: Getty

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