In August, Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE) partnered with Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) on their first ever “Women Are IT” Experience at their annual conference in Atlanta. Nationwide, Black women earned only 3% of computing degrees and hold less than 0.5 % of leadership roles. Based on these statistics, clearly there is a need to increase this number, as well as decrease the number who leave the field. Study after study has shown than having access to mentors and sponsors can have a great impact on attracting and retaining women in technical fields.
In addition, having counterspaces, where women can connect with others who can personally relate to their struggles has been also shown to be highly beneficial. The purpose of hosting an event like this was to address the special challenges and issues that Black women face across all areas of technology. We launched this new track with a “Ladies Night” featuring executive coach, Landi Spearman. Not only did we have a lively and engaging discussion, but everyone was able to share experiences and gain insight on how to live their best lives. All this while achieving career success on their own terms. As a special treat, a massage therapist and makeup artist pampered the attendees, who were able to relax and unwind, something busy women rarely have time to do.
On our second day, we hosted three workshops with BWISE ladies who are experts in multiple areas of business. Our first seminar was “How to Make The Leap To Entrepreneurship”, with Monique Mills, President of TPM Focus and Kelly Burton, PhD, Founder of Founders of Color. Next up was Ruthie Lyle, PhD, who holds the most number patents of Black women, talked about “The Double Bind For Black Women in STEM”. And wrapping up the day was Brandeis Marshall, PhD who discussed our upcoming cohort in partnership with blackComputeHER for women wanting to learn about Data Science.
To wrap up our inaugural summit, BWISE hosted a networking brunch for conference attendees and local Atlanta women in technology to connect. We covered a wide range of topics, from
how to pivot your career to how to succeed in academia. So much great information shared and so many wonderful connections were made. We received so much positive feedback on our programming, that we are looking forward to partnering again for BDPACon20!