Written by T. Nicole
African American youth are the least likely racial group to enter technology fields. According to the United Negro College Fund, “Black and White students pursue STEM degrees at similar rates, but Black students in any STEM field struggle to achieve comparable representation in degree attainment.” Cue Sabrina and Anthony Barrett of Girls for Technology, Inc.
Girls for Technology, Inc., founded in 2015, is a non-profit organization focused on leveling the playing field in STEM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), for underprivileged populations. The Barrett’s are separately credentialed in their respective careers but decided to join to educate and elevate girls in the field of STEM. Hailing from Connecticut, Sabrina grew tired of trying to climb the corporate ladder. When she stepped away to pursue entrepreneurship, she looked back at her corporate career and realized she was never presented the opportunity to work within STEM in her formative years and did not want future generations to experience the same. Anthony has a background in the non-profit realm, so when they brainstormed, Girls for Technology, Inc. was born.
STEM learning promotes career advancement in black communities and exposes them to careers deemed unconventional for some, coming from these specific backgrounds. “STEM learning is important because it allows underprivileged communities to make better wages and earning power, provides economic mobility, and sets a foundation for generating wealth,” says Anthony. Girls for Technology provides these opportunities through the following programs.
The “Like a Boss Academy” consists of project-based leadership development workshops for pre-college girls. Aimed at high school students, “Like a Boss focuses on self-empowerment and teaches participants about career pathways within the technology sector along with entrepreneurship,” says Sabrina. Students participate in project-based challenges, and upon completion, engage in a pitch competition that prepares them for real-world experiences in their field.
Another program is Pipeline 4.0, a 10-week tech workforce development program that focuses on young adults ages 18-24. This program works with unemployed and underemployed participants. Teaching them project management skills and tech-based program skills (ex., Salesforce, and AWS) in hopes of helping them attain internships and jobs within the tech industry. One of their success stories is from a student that began the program with the hopes of becoming a math teacher. This student is now in her third year at Emory University majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Physics. While she is studying markers to detect cancer in undergrad, the student is also in her third-year interning for Google, with a job offer upon graduation.
Girls for Technology began with a mission that focused solely on helping girls, however, the organization is in the process of rebranding to include women, because women were once girls. The rebrand will provide resources for entrepreneurship and access to capital and is expected to launch in June of 2021.
To find out more about Girls for Technology, Inc. and to get involved, please visit: https://girlsfortechnology.org/Programs.html