“I don’t think that the trickle down theory of diversity ever really works. For me, if a company is really committed to diversity, that means everything. That means gender diversity, that means sexual orientation for me, that means race, ethnicity. Everything should have a plan of focus at the same time — not one above the other. I mean, how do you prioritize that? I’m a woman but I’m a woman of color so for me, a company saying ‘we’re only going to focus on raising women in these positions’ is problematic because I also come to the table as a woman who is African-American.” ~ Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code
Summary: Coming from humble beginnings, Kimberly Bryant is no stranger to hard work. As a young girl, she developed an uncommon passion for math and science which eventually lead her to the prestigious Vanderbilt University where she majored in Electrical Engineering and minored in Math. Often being the only minority in her classes, she entered the work force in the same predicament. This disconnect continued into her professional life and eventually broached her personal life. Kimberly’s daughter, Kai, inherited the same interest in math and science and the same lack of access to opportunities in the tech space as young girl of color. So in 2011, Kimberly created 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. As Oprah describes it, Black Girls Code is “the first organization of its kind.” Black Girls Code is now an international organization with seven chapters (with more on the way in 2015) across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Prior to Black Girls Code, Kimberly 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.
Industry: Engineering & Entrepreneurship
Q: Have you ever hesitated to share your message of empowerment? on fastcompany.com
A: From the beginning, [I have dealt with] naysayers. You know, “Why does this need to be called Black Girls Code?” Someone recently tweeted to me that “your organization is unapologetically black.” That’s right. We are unapologetically black. My goal is to make sure the girls understand there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This is about taking pride in our culture and advancing our culture.