Black Girls CODE: Empowering Black Girls to Become Innovators in Tech
As part of Kinder Beauty’s continued work to support BIPOC individuals and communities, and in honor of Black History Month, we will be donating half of all profits from sales in the Kinder Beauty February Marketplace to three important change-making charities that serve BIPOC populations—Black Girls CODE, Afro-Vegan Society, and Loveland Foundation. Read on to learn more about Black Girls CODE and you will quickly understand why we chose them as one of the three beneficiaries of our February Marketplace.
Black Girls CODE founder Kimberly Bryant was an electrical engineering major at Vanderbilt University when she was first introduced to computer programming. Excited by the prospects that learning popular programming languages held for her, she was also struck by the isolation she experienced.
Bryant felt alone amongst her predominantly caucasian classmates. As an African-American woman, they did not share a cultural background with her. Fewer people of color receiving an education in science, technology, engineering, and math translates to a lack of cultural diversity in STEM fields.
Over the years, and throughout Bryant’s career as an electrical engineer, many things changed in the industry, but the lack of African American women in the science, technology, engineering, and math professions remained. She told Scientific American in an interview that after moving to the Bay area in an effort to start her own company, “I found that there were not many females in the startup culture and also not many people of color.”
Her daughter was entering middle school at the same time, and was excited about computers and technology. Though Bryant looked for an appropriate class to enroll her in, she couldn’t find any that seemed to bridge the gender gap. “Sometimes, she was one of only 3 girls in a class of 40 boys, and it just didn’t seem like she was as encouraged as some of the boys,” she told Scientific American.
From her experiences, Bryant knew that the dearth of African American women in STEM fields was not due to a lack of interest. The problem was a lack of access and exposure. So after more than a decade in the biotechnology industry, she launched the nonprofit Black Girls CODE. The organization provides girls of color (ages 7-17) the education they need to enter these fields, at a time in their lives when they are thinking about who they want to grow into. Within two years, the fledgling organization had reached 2,000 students through its chapters in various cities. It is now their vision to train one-million girls by 2040.
By introducing programming and technology to a new generation of girls of color, Black Girls Code is empowering them to become the leaders and creative innovators of tomorrow.
In their after school classes and weekend workshops, elementary and middle school-aged girls learn computer programming and digital technology. Topics covered include game development, HTML/CSS, Basics, robotics, and other programming concepts. Girls have the opportunity to go on field trips to tech companies where they meet accomplished experts and have an in-person view to an industry that they might otherwise not be exposed to.
Thirteen-year-old Aita didn’t know much about computer programming before attending a Black Girls CODE workshop. But the class filled her with curiosity and excitement. “I didn’t think it would go well. I thought it was going to be a lot more complicated, but [the instructors] explained it really thoroughly,” Aita told Abby Bobé of Black Girls CODE. “In the future, I want to become a computer scientist and create healthcare technologies that will help people around the world.”
Black Girls CODE has opened the door wide open for girls of color to enter and succeed in STEM professions. Through the organization’s work, it is truly making change in the world, so that girls who dream of STEM careers, as Bryant did, need not feel isolated. Instead, they experience the great support, training, and community they require to thrive in their chosen fields.
To date, Kinder Beauty has donated nearly $35,000 to animal rights, human rights, environmental, and anti-racist organizations. In honor of Black History Month, we are so proud to support these three trail-blazing nonprofits—Afro-Vegan Society, Black Girls CODE, and Loveland Foundation—that are working in BIPOC communities to create long-lasting, positive change.
But we believe that every month should celebrate and amplify Black communities, and we are committed to do our part all-year long.
Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.