In March 2011, while attending a Berkeley Women Entrepreneurs Conference, Kimberly Bryant, an accomplished tech engineer with experience both broad and deep, found herself engaged in a discussion about the dearth of women working in the technology field. Observations ranged over the territory of shortages of women currently available in the resource pool, and a stagnant, even dwindling pipeline of women, and particularly women of color in STEM sectors. Bryant had an epiphany, a moment of realization that if the problem was going to find its solution, she needed to take it upon herself to personally do something about it. Some of the best leadership advice ever given may be contained in the clichéd couplet, ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’
Shortly thereafter, Bryant founded Black Girls Code (BGC), a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping girls from underrepresented communities with coding skills through participation in workshops and other training vehicles, with the end result of “seeding the tech pipeline with the girls from the younger generation who will be come to tech leaders and creators of the future.” BGC has a stated objective of reaching over one million young women of color by mid-century, and transforming technology to represent the diversity of the United States’ population, and even the world’s, within the ranks of the sector’s employees, rather than just its consumers.
The 2015 McKinsey report is only one of several studies that highlight the positive impact of a diverse workforce on the corporate bottom line; Bryant is committed to battling the systemic biases that have minimized the role that women, and particularly women of color, as well as other underrepresented groups have played in the technology explosion—it is not only financially right; it is a social and moral necessity.
Her primary goal at present is to develop a sustainable business model that will allow BGC to reach girls ever farther afield and achieve the lofty 1M goal. Bryant has drawn inspiration from David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, which resonates with her as the founder of a small startup stretching to become a global business against daunting obstacles. “It’s shown me that with skill and strategy, even David can conquer a giant. ”