Black Women working in Technology. It seems to be quite the anomaly. At the current moment if you did a google search on that very phrase, you will see an organization called AAWIT: African American Women in Technology. But beyond that the titles seem to refer to how Black Women are using technology to increase their personal lives and achieve success, but nothing to suggest that Black Women are responsible for making or developing the many tools from web applications, mobile applications, social media sites, etc. That so much of the world uses on a daily basis.
There is nothing to suggest that we are at the fore front or even slightly in the middle of cutting edge technologies like User Interface Design, Rich Internet Applications, Cloud Computing, Web 2.0/3.0 Development , Internet Security, IT/Networking, Computing, Business Intelligence, etc.
My question is why?
I walked around aimlessly, finally putting on my Drupalcon badge but still in shock that there were no other Black Women at this conference. BUT WAIT… low and behold…..I thought my eyes were deceiving me. There she was sitting in the corner with her laptop, all alone just as I was. I mustered up the courage to walk over and say “HI!”. From that moment on we stuck together for the remainder of the conference. Out of over 500 people there were just the two of us. During the lunch break we discussed the fact that we were the only “African-American” persons at the conference. All the other shades of brown were of foreign decent. Indian, Asian, and African.
At one point during our lunch the founder of Drupal, Dries Buytaert, and another attendee sat at a table next to us to have lunch as well. In my mind I thought, “I wonder if he thinks we are here for Drupalcon? I wonder if he realizes that, yes, Black women use Drupal too.” Silly questions, probably. But it definitely crossed my mind.
Later in the day was the Drupalcon keynote address. At this moment I looked across the sea of people that spanned the ridiculously large convention center room and began to cry. My heart broke as Google Executive were talking about the Google Summer of Code and introducing the participants, one of which happened to be as young as 9. These children were being praised for their intelligence, their brilliance, and the sheer fact that at such a young age they are amongst the best and the brightest in computing. All I could think was “Where are MY people?” Where were the little black girls and boys who have the brilliance and the talent to spend the summer working on Open Source projects sponsored by Drupal, Adobe, and Google? When is the opportunity presented to that little black girl living in the ghetto that has the mental capacity and ability to stand with her peers in this severely secluded and segregated computational environment?
Again, my heart was breaking. I could barely focus and I was fighting the tears as some attendees typed furiously around me and others fought to grab sockets to charge their laptops.
The moment was bitter but also sweet. I had to pause and realize that I had walked down the path less chosen and I should be proud that I am one of the 2% within an industry of nearly 3 million.
As I moved through the rest of the conference, with every step I promised myself that I would spend my life trying to increase that number.