Meet The Black Girls CODE Instructor Empowering Girls To Pursue STEM Through Coloring Book
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Meet The Black Girls CODE Instructor Empowering Young Women To Pursue STEM Through A Coloring Book

Photo Credit: Nia Asemota

With only 2% of STEM jobs held by Black women, they continue to do brilliant work in their respected fields, but in silos.

Black Girls CODE technical instructor Nia Asemota is one of these determined young women actively defying societal pressures and furthering the understated conversation in her new coloring book.

Growing up in a Puerto Rican and Nigerian household, the idea of pursuing computer science wasn’t a typical career path. It was a challenge to find anyone who looked like her in her aspiring field at the time. The young woman’s perspective changed as she embarked on her high school journey, which is where she joined her first Black Girls CODE workshop.

Alexis Riley, an adjunct associate professor in Barnard’s Education Department, found that two significant factors limit the field’s appeal to Black students. Black students don’t see themselves represented in science education, and two, Black STEM teachers—particularly women—don’t receive the support they need as faculty.

Asemota is currently pursuing a computer science and biology major at New York University. To help advance the next generation, she turned her passion project into inspiring girls to code. She created Black Girls CODE the Future to help shed light on some of the most renowned scientific trailblazers to inspire innovation and celebrate representation.

“Being able to have that hands-on insight was a huge motivation to create the coloring book,” Asemota told AfroTech.

“To fill the gaps that I personally knew and to fill the gaps that I’ve learned from them. Also learning about their experiences of microaggressions has also been really helpful in, ‘Ok, how do I switch the narrative?’ And something as simple as a coloring book so people can feel seen.”

Scientists are creative, too. With 32 beautiful illustrations to color, some honored faces include Katherine Johnson, Timnit Gebru, and Joy Buolamwini. This educational coloring book aims to empower young women of color to pursue STEM, despite the wide underrepresentation in classrooms and the workforce.

“I wanted to make sure that I included names that are familiar and also those unsung heroes so that nobody gets lost in the mix,” she said. “I wanted to have a range. For example, for me, I’m doing software engineering, but I’m also majoring in biology. So, I wanted to have people who look like me, from NASA mathematicians to astrophysicists — just a huge range of people.”