What are the odds of being a Black person in tech? According to an article published in the LA times “The percentage of Black employees at major tech companies remains low: 2.9% at Salesforce, 3.8% at Facebook, 4.4% at Slack, 4.5% at Microsoft, and 6% at Twitter.” Looking at the facts it seems that Being Black in Tech is not as common as one may think. Take a moment to think about all the black men and women you know in tech. How many leaders, CEO’s, VC’s can you think of? In the same LA Times article “Fewer than 1% of startup founders who receive venture funding are Black. And with few Black investors sitting on their boards, the percentage of Black top executives at major tech companies is even lower.”
Racial disparities in tech exist and they are vast. In order to make progress, we must all work together to “Be the change we wish to see”. At Ironhack, we realize our platform can be a catalyst for this change. This is one reason we wanted to highlight the Incredible and talented digital Ironhack creators who have defied the odds and continue to be a voice in the tech community.
We hope this inspires readers to break into tech and we want you to know that: You aren’t alone. You are supported. You will be empowered. You will be uplifted. Don't wait. Do it.
Having a role in tech can mean so many different things. You can be a developer, a designer, tech unicorn, a program manager, a technical project manager, a copywriter, in the c-suite, an entrepreneur, the list goes on.
My name is Angel, I am the Program Manager at Ironhack Miami and I am Black in Tech!
I get to combine my technical background with my love for design and my passion for people all in one position. It comes down to what you want your role in tech to look like. Being Black in Tech to me means creating opportunities for other Black People, being an advocate for Black People, and inspiring the next generation of Black techies!
Throughout my tech journey the amount of Black people I have met has been far and few between and reminds me how real the racial disparities in tech are. In an article published by PR Newswire “African Americans are leading the conversation with an unprecedented impact on brands, policies and what the country watches, buys and listens to.” Yet, we are the least represented across the board. How do we change this?
We change this through representation, opportunity, unity, and education. Representation matters. If you can't see it you can’t be it.
I had the honor and privilege to sit down and interview some of the most inspirational Black Ironhackers. Here is what they had to say in regards to giving advice, being black in tech, and just believing in yourself!
“The Black Community in Spain is still struggling with social inequality. In one generation it's hard to have the same stability and resources as other communities. But that is changing! My advice is to be curious, be brave, and be bold. Ironhack embraces different professional backgrounds. My image of tech before ironhack was geeky IT guys working in the basement and the corporate guys get the top floors. I can say all of this is a false image i had, you just have to go for it. We will be here to support you! We are the future! ”
“The first bootcamp I applied to in Germany denied me because they said I wasn’t motivated enough. That didn't stop me from following my dream of becoming a software developer...then I found Ironhack. Being Black in tech to me means a new horizon. Taking up space everywhere we should. We are redefining the status quo that people think Black people are not only financially less equipe but also intuitively less capable. If 5 more Black women break into tech because of my story that would make me happy!”.
In 2020, Ironhack awarded Akua “Most Inspiring Story”. She indeed has an incredible story and we are thankful we get to be a part of her journey!
“Being Black in Tech means I can represent someone like me in a setting that is taken up predominately by one specific gender and race. I am thankful I get to share my opinion and subject expertise where usually people like me wouldn't have been included in the conversation. It means extra to me since I am one of the only Black women in my organization. I’m glad this is changing and strides are being taken but at the same time the reality is there are still disparities within this sector. I’ve learned support systems are huge and at Ironhack I found that support.”
“You have to realize your personal legend. What is the impact you want to leave on this world? What were you put on this earth to do? I read the Alchemist and I wanted to realize what my personal legend was.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses and enjoy the journey. There is no instant gratification. You have to put in the work. Jay-Z said “A loss is not a loss, it's a lesson”. Once you have that mentality you will appreciate and be open to the lessons out there. You won’t be well-rounded if you become a Senior Designer the day after you get the certificate from the bootcamp, you have to be in the trenches. You have to be challenged, you have to be scared, if an assignment is given to you and you are like “what is this?” then you know you are on the right path. Google everything!”
“When someone tells you “no”, it hurts a lot. I was working as a QA engineer and I kept looking at what the developers were doing and thinking to myself “I can do that”. I didn't want to stay on the sidelines and not go after what I really wanted to do in life.
If tech is something you really want to do, don't quit if you hear no or after the first time you feel frustrated. You have to keep pushing. Without resistance, there is no growth. Don’t tell yourself no and don’t let other people tell you no. Build a habit of coding every single day so you can continue to improve by creating a habit, and learning. You can only get better by being consistent.
Lastly, find other black people in tech, find out about their experience and how they got into tech. If you don't know about something you won't look for it. You have to be connecting and speaking with other black people to know what opportunities are out there. By Black people breaking into tech, it will turn us into creators and not just spenders. It won’t completely solve the problem but it will help!”
“We are still at the very beginning of the Black journey in tech. There is such a small percentage of Black people in tech and an even smaller number in leadership positions. It's important to not only continue to grow as an engineer and creative professional but also let other people who look like me know that you can do this too! We don't talk enough about how important exposure and representation is. If I were to have seen someone who looks like me doing what I am doing now as a kid, I would have thought I can do that too. Working in tech is not unattainable. Being in my position is cool because I can be a role model to kids that were in a similar situation growing up!”
"You won’t know until you try. Don’t compete with the people next to you. Learn from each other and uplift each other. Know your worth and do your research. I would tell my students you want to be a part of this industry because it’s the future and you are the future. Get into the tech industry out of passion and determination not about how much you’ll make but letting my students know that they have the ability to learn those skills. You can take what you love and mold it with tech. After the bootcamp, I was getting a lot of leadership opportunities, and for every “yes” that meant a “no” to something else in my life. For every yes, that was me saying no to myself and yes to someone else. You have to know when to take a step backwards once you get to where you want to be. Enjoy the journey".
“My sister passed away around my current age. That experience made me realize that I wanted to create something that exists and impacts people’s lives once I am gone. I want to leave something that will continue to grow and help people when I am no longer here. I can build a product here in Lagos and it will help someone in Japan. Tech has no boundaries, there is a huge community of supporters looking to help you achieve your goals. Do what you are passionate about, no matter what people say. Chase what you believe in and don’t stop until you make it!”
At Ironhack, we’ve made strides by creating an internal diversity, equity, & inclusion committee, creating KPI’s regarding gender and race on sourcing talent pipelines as well as scholarships that prioritize people of color. However, we know it’s not enough! We are actively looking for more communities to collaborate with to increase awareness with Black in tech. Black History Month is not just in the month of February, it’s every single day!
If you or someone you know is interested in a career in tech, apply here to get started:
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