The Pipeline.

If you work in technology, you (or your colleagues) have undoubtedly heard or lamented about the dreaded pipeline problem.

Definition:

“The Pipeline” (proper noun) – A pool of qualified talent whom are interested in working for any given organization in a technical role. For “technical role” see 95% of all open jobs on Indeed.

The Pipeline Problem takes the definition a little further by adding a diversity twist:

“The Pipeline Problem” (proper noun) – A limited or non-existent pool of diverse (read: women and underrepresented minorities) and qualified technical talent whom are interested in working for any given organization in a technical role.

Many companies looking for technology talent are unable to hire women or minorities because those demographics are just not attending and graduating from universities with a degree in computer science, mathematics or other related STEM programs.

But today’s podcast guest does not believe that sums up the diversity problem facing companies.

Kimberly Bryant, Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE, believes pipeline is only one issue. 

And it’s not as big of an issue as many articles and companies would have you believe.

Armed with a degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University, Kimberly’s career took her to some of the largest biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the world. It was there she was surrounded by other women and people of color who held senior technical roles.

So when Kimberly decided to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams after more than 25 years in Corporate America, she was very surprised to see so few women and people of color attending tech and founder focused events.

She was also surprised when her daughter, who had an interest in computer engineering and gaming, attended a youth computer program as one of only a few girls and the only person of color.

Kimberly thought that was odd.

Especially given they live in San Francisco, which is known for its very diverse and tech-oriented population.

So she decided to take action.

Inspired to create an organization that focuses on positive social change, Kimberly founded Black Girls CODE. BCG is a non-profit that teaches young girls from underrepresented communities computer programming.

And they have a grand mission:

To provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040.

So far, so good.

Since 2011, Black Girls CODE, with the support of organizations such as ThoughtWorks, General Motors, and Lyft has reached more than 3,000 students.

And they’re just getting started.

On This Episode

  • You’ll hear what led Kimberly to launch Black Girls CODE
  • Why she believes the pipeline is not “the” problem preventing companies from hiring diverse talent
  • Why she has hope for the future

About Kimberly Bryant

Kimberly Bryant is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts.

Kimberly has enjoyed a successful 25+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 100 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.

Since 2011 Kimberly has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local organization serving only the Bay Area, to an international organization with seven chapters across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls CODE has currently reached over 3000 students and continues to grow and thrive.

About Black Girls CODE

Black Girls CODE is a non-profit organization dedicated to teach girls aged 7 to 17 about computer programming and digital technology.

It offers courses in computer programming, electrical engineering, mobile app development, robotics, and other STEM fields. Headquartered in Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco, the organization has 7 established institutions that operate in 7 states across the U.S. as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa.