With so many African American women starting their own companies, why are so few entering the tech space? A new study and campaign titled “Make Tech Her Story” from nonprofit CompTIA found technology and computer science to be the favorite school subject for 42% of African American girls’ (ages 10-17).
Currently, African American women comprise 4% of the 2,200 women-led tech startups in the U.S., according to a survey from digitalundivided. Given this shockingly low number, the tech industry is poised to attract more African American female founders. One sharpshooter millennial by the name of Jessica Williams, aka Tech Biz Gurl, is unlocking the key to the mystery behind it all and getting things done.
Williams, who is making strides as the brainchild behind Tech Biz Gurl, has capitalized on a partner-in-crime approach to being tech savvy where she helps female business owners conquer their “firsts.” How has she been successful as both an entrepreneur and an influencer and how has she helped women entering tech? Read on…
BE: Tell us more about Tech Biz Gurl. What does it mean to you as an individual and as a businesswoman?
JW: Before I started Tech Biz Gurl, I was feeling extremely burnt out with my tech role at the time and was looking for inspiration. I was about to turn 30 and felt so unprepared because I didn’t have my life figured out. I felt the need to do something different so I attended the Spark & Hustle conference for women starting and growing businesses.
It was there that I realized how intimidating technology can be for women, how important it was for them to conquer it while building their businesses. I didn’t consider myself an expert but I knew things that could help these women. A week later, I bought the domain Techbizgurl.com. The name highlights my experience and background as a woman with technical and business skills and provides a space to talk about these three topics under one umbrella.
BE: What are the most important components of your work and why?
JW: Empowering women and promoting income diversity and side hustles. Empowering women by helping them to conquer technology and giving them the confidence to do so. When I hear back from a client that they were able to follow my instructions, create a PayPal button, and add it to their site all by themselves, it makes my day. That experience has given them the confidence to do tech and sets them up for success going forward. Like with TBG as my “side hustle,” I believe everyone should have more than one income stream so that you have more options and flexibility to focus on what’s important to you—extra money for savings, travel, or to pay off student loans.
BE: Why did you choose to get involved with the Make Tech Her Story Campaign? Why is it vital to encourage women to pursue careers in technology?
JW: Through the first nine months of 2016, employers posted more than 2 million job openings for technology roles that keep the businesses of America connected and communicating while on the horizon you have the retirement of baby boomers. We need to help fill these roles. A campaign after my own heart, it calls attention to an important issue in a very visual way. Girls everywhere are shown that anyone, regardless of race, gender, or age can work in IT. It’s more than just meeting workforce demands; it’s about reaching a broader customer base.
If one truly wants to create products and services that everyone needs, you need to have a tech staff representative of everyone—with diverse experiences and alternative perspectives. If everyone within an organization is the same gender or race, how can an organization produce solutions that will appeal to those from differing backgrounds? These are the types of questions we need to be asking ourselves when thinking about this issue.
For more on CompTIA the IT industry Trade Association visit: www.comptia.org.