Black Lives Matter, in Tech

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As the GET Cities Chicago team, we stand firmly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. While we are made hopeful by the solidarity many in the tech industry have pledged to the Black community, we also know that the tech industry has a long way to go before it is truly inclusive of Black technologists, particularly Black women.

Our mission at GET Cities is to fight for the advancement of women in technology. We have to fight especially hard for Black women in tech because while the current state of women in technology is bleak, the numbers for Black women are even bleaker.

• Only 3% of bachelors degree earners in computer sciences are Black women.

We can’t expect to build a diverse and inclusive tech workforce until our universities are attracting, accepting, and graduating Black women out of computer science programs at a much higher rate. University education is a critical piece of the puzzle, which is why we’re partnered with Break Through Tech and UIC to address inequities in CS degree completion.

• Only 3% of bachelors degree earners in computer sciences are Black women.

As the famous quote by Marian Wright Edelman goes, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” This is a vicious cycle, the lack of representation for Black women in tech creates an environment that is unwelcoming towards Black women seeking to enter tech fields. We must act aggressively to interrupt this cycle by increasing retention and promoting Black women to leadership positions in the tech workforce.

• Between 2009 and 2018, only .0006% of Venture Capital funding went to Black women founders.

We have to look at where money is being invested, and right now the tech industry is clearly not investing dollars in Black women, especially as startup founders. As Ellen Pao told Fast Company in 2018, “There are a lot of people who are talking about investing in women and founders of color, but when you look at their portfolios, it’s still majority homogeneous.” We must follow-up on our good intentions with real investments.

The lack of representation of and opportunity for Black technologists is just one of many, horrific symptoms of white supremacy in our country. As a team, we’re committed to being anti-racist in our work, and we’re excited to do our part to change the current reality and create a world of opportunities for Black women in Chicago tech. We’re also excited to be joining so many incredible, Black women-led organizations in this work. Check out BWISE and NSBE to learn about the work already happening on the ground to advance Black women in tech.

We cannot achieve gender equality without racial equality. We’re currently designing and building out the GET Cities program in Chicago, and throughout this process we will be taking actionable steps to ensure that our work advances gender and racial equality together.

Our team will be launching our inaugural programming on behalf of women in tech later this year, and we can’t wait to work alongside all of you. If you’d like to get in touch with our team to share your experiences, insights, or asks of our community, please reach out to us here. We’d love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in joining our team or know of others in your networks, we are actively recruiting paid research fellows, apply here by July 13th.

Your GET Cities Chicago team,

Elle + Sam

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