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Blog, Community
Inclusive entrepreneurship¬†is one of the White House’s goals to make technology and tech start ups more diverse, inclusive, and transparent. With an eye toward hiring practices that reflect the American population, thirty companies signed¬†the White House Tech Inclusion Pledge to increase and track diversity and inclusion in their workforces.

The pledge called for companies to set workforce diversity goals and then track and publish the results, as well as to invest in partnerships that will allow diverse talent to be recognized and supported. Innovation and entrepreneurship can be used as tools to create a more equitable, secure, and globally connected world.

A report sponsored by Intel and Dahlberg Global Development Advisors estimates that¬†¬†$470 to $570 billion in new value for the US technology sector could be generated if the tech industry embraced American gender and ethnic diversity. The United State of Women¬†is another summit sponsored by the White House designed to address issues that impact women’s ability to succeed. Their entrepreneurship and innovation goals address the need for equity in access to capital and market share, and methods include training programs, increased access to credit and federal contracting for women-owned business, and participation in global entrepreneurship initiatives.

Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder of CODE2040, a company founded to address the diversity gap in the tech industry, is currently a senior policy advisor to US Chief Technology officer Megan Smith. CODE2040 is implementing a number of hiring support programs for minorities, such as sponsoring internships and their new Entrepreneur in Residence program. CODE2040’s goal is to provide leadership and opportunity for underrepresented minorities in the innovation economy.

At the first White House sponsored South by South Lawn: A Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action, Stewart Butterfield, cofounder of Slack, proposed that companies start a vigorous diversity and inclusion hiring plan when they are small, so they can work through problems and develop systems. While the bottom line may be impacted by diverse hiring practices, Butterfield says,¬† “that’s not why we do it. ¬†Tech lives inside a society with systemic racism.”Save

Blog, Inspiration
It’s 2016. On those days, grey and rainy usually, when I wake up thinking apps are getting redundant if not outright overly-fetishized (you know, like tech co’s gone all yep-our-swooshes-make-our-shoes-worth-$500-regardless-of-production-costs), I pinch myself and then try listing the names of the good guys, those ethical apps + designers that/who are going to make qualitative differences in our world.

I admit sometimes my listing becomes chanting, almost as if I am creating my own zenned out religious ideology, one built upon the technological possibilities of today and an unwavering belief in a better future. But who knows? Perhaps some day I will have a follower or two. For now, can I introduce you to my faves? No ritualistic participation required.

1. Ankommen: This app, released by the German government, has been turning heads since it launched in early 2016. Available for download in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, and German, Ankommen (meaning “Arrive”) is designed to facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into their new countries. On the chance you ignore the news and wonder about the broader implications of such an app, check out Ai Wei Wei’s documentation of Syrian refugees on Instragram this year.

2. Blendoor: Developed by Stephanie Lampkin who is black + female + an engineer who has been coding since the age of 13, this app is the new Tinder of coding. Except your photo is replaced by your resume, making it, thereby, the opposite of Tinder. By creating a platform that matches coders’ resumes to jobs, Lampkin is doing serious damage to the way-too-long history of sexism and racism in tech hiring practices.

3. Q: CEO Eric Cervini created this app with the goal of eradicating the misogyny, racism, and other dehumanizing practices (especially via commentary) plaguing early attempts at creating online LQBTQIA community. Unlike its predecessors, Q is about complicating how the queer community interacts online, decentering the body, and embracing inclusivity as never before.

4. Okay, this one hasn’t happened yet, but last month Google awarded 500,000 USD to Ella Baker Center fellow, Patrisse Cullors, who is working to develop a #BLM app in collaboration with the ACLU. This will be an app for reporting police violence in real time, and I am certain it will rank among my favorites as soon as it launches.

Blog, Diversity & Inclusion
You know already that we have a serious shortage of women coders. Or if you don’t, you might check out Ciara Byrne’s three-year-old piece on the loneliness of women coders here. You know, too, that gender biases continue to devalue women’s salaries. Recall that whole 1990’s “women earn 72 cents to the dollar of a man” platitude? By 2015 women earned 79 percent of men’s earnings, and according to the group Women‚Äôs Policy Research, women won‚Äôt receive equal pay until 2059. You probably also know that New York’s Mayor Bloomberg warned we must learn to “program or be programmed“‚Äďthat was all the way back in 2012.

Here’s what you don’t know:

In Feb of this year, a researcher at Cal Poly teamed up with 4 more researchers at North Carolina State to conduct a study of gender bias in open source. And they found that in open source software communities “women’s contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s.” This was as long as women’s gender remained unidentifiable.

As soon as women were known to be women, according to the study, they were rejected at higher rates than their male counterparts. (See study cited above for details.) You’re angry, right? Our point is that women are killer coders. But that’s not the end. Today coding really can make our lives better, and we want to show you why:

1. Employment opportunities are greater in number than ever before: “In 2015, Intel pledged $300 million to increasing¬†diversity¬†in its offices. Google pledged $150 million¬†and Apple is donating¬†$20 million, all to producing a tech workforce that includes more women and non-white workers” (TechInsider). In short, by 2016 everybody wants anybody who isn’t a white man.

2. Related to the above, getting hired is suddenly just like Tindering. Except it’s the opposite of Tindering, because Blendoor does merit-based matching. Adios, gender-bias in hiring practices.

3. Flexibility, flexibility, and flexibility:
More employment opportunities means you’ll be more marketable, and this means you will have greater flexibility in choosing how and where and for whom (yourself? another?) you will work.

4. Coding pays better than cleaning.
And lawyering, and doctoring, and a lot of other things, too. Which means, if we are to believe those people who call coding “fun,” coding allows you to DWYL while continuing to spend too much on heels, or horses, or whatever your compulsion may be.Save

Blog, Diversity & Inclusion, Hackathon Info
Hackathons are leading the way in creating opportunities in tech for both women and people of color. With women making up less than 5% of the leadership roles in technology, and people of color even less than that being only 2% of the workforce in Silicon Valley, hackathons are making it possible for these numbers to increase over the years.

Let’s look at why we need more¬†women & diversity focused hackathons.

1. Shines a Light on Untapped Creative Resources Problem solving is the name of the game in the tech industry. Having the ability to find creative solutions to everyday problems is what it is all about. But, it has been overlooking some of the most creative people in our entire society; women and people of color. Popular opinion has shown that the creativity of communities of color is an untapped resource and something the tech industry needs to recognize. They also need to recognize that women bring the fire when it comes to problem solving. Being known best for their ability to multi-task and dig into the heart of a problem in order to find the best solution, women are essential to the growth of any organization. Hackathons provide both demographics with the opportunity they need to shine.

2. Fosters Teamwork It takes teamwork to truly produce something worth any real-world value in the tech industry. When people come together in order to solve a single problem they are no longer individuals, they quickly become a team. Through hackathons, they are able to work with some of the most brilliant minds in the game in order to positively impact the rest of the world through the use of technology. Women and diversity focused hackathons bring women together with other like-minded women, allows cultural connections across the board, and inspires organizations to support the changes needed to further the industry.

3. Produces Self-Confidence In order to succeed at anything you must first have the skills needed to get the job done. This is where hackathons can have the biggest impact on both women and people of color. For those interested in the tech industry, whether you are new to the field or an expert coder, hackathons will challenge you. Women and diversity focused hackathons tackle one of the biggest challenges we face today, bridging the gap between differentiating ourselves as individuals while satisfying our desire to belong to a group who appreciates us. Creativity, teamwork, and confidence is what has made the tech industry one of the most successful industries of all time.

Creating more hackathons that are women and diversity focused will ensure that it stays that way.Save