While it is true the information age has led to an expansion of skills, devices, gadgets and opened the door to cutting edge technology which has exponentially expanded the world there remains a significant gap. In most recent years there have been many inspiring leaders that are working very hard to close this gap. Organizations such as Black Girls Code, Women Who Code, Code.org ,Girls, Inc., Change the Equation, and Digital Undivided are all working to close the gender and/or diversity gap in the tech industry. Why? It’s simple the skill set obtained by learning to code or working in this industry in any technical capacity can transform lives. Coding is the new “blue collar” trade that provided millions of Americans with opportunity and an actual middle class. The opportunity to learn a skill that can provide unlimited opportunity and growth for individuals, for families and possibly for entire communities. The biggest obstacle now is not exposure but overcoming the very real barrier of integrating real skills into classrooms, vocational schools, and government paid for institutions of higher learning. There are bootcamps, online courses, programs and more being created for those that can afford it. While this is important and very much needed, it still leaves many out in the cold. There is a clear message here…
Sure, technology is a clear path to success, empowerment and a high paying job but it requires quite a bit too. You must have access to the equipment, have done some on your own learning, experience using Macs and/or PCs in more than an administrative capacity and of course thousands of dollars (or good credit) to pay for the entry level skill set one needs to begin to learn to code.
This has caused a influx of initiatives to teach children to code so that they are getting access much earlier in life, which is great! However, their parents, their siblings, their aunts and uncles are stuck in dead-end jobs not able to provide this new generation with the tools necessary to help them. Entire communities are struggling to create a work force buckling under the weight of the fleeing population. Never stopping to consider that one does not have to dedicate their lives to assimilating to the stereo-typical developer profile. Another option being integrating technical skills into other passions such as the arts, volunteering, advocacy while being able to support oneself, financially. Gaining a network of really smart people and outside of the box thinkers. I have been very fortunate to have met geniuses, open and giving professionals in this industry that have the heart to make a change; however, they lack the perspective of those who could most benefit from their influence. This is the gap I hope to help bridge.
It is so obvious to me that technology is the catalyst but we have a long road ahead of us. We have to change mindsets, show the various career paths in this industry (not everyone is a coder), provide resources, make meaningful connections and more. While technology has managed to transform the world is has yet to transform our communities…. That’s the next step!