On this episode of Making Ways, the podcast all about the unexpected paths to a creative career, host Rob Goodman is joined by Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director of Black Girls Code. Kimberly’s path to starting the organization was anything but a straight shot. After an illustrious career in engineering spent working for Genentech, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Merck, and Pfizer, among others, she was drawn to launch Black Girls Code after seeing her daughter face the same challenges Kimberly confronted as a young woman of color interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Knowing that she could have a hand in improving the technology sector for her daughter and young women everywhere, Kimberly went all in. Today, Kimberly and Black Girls Code are dedicated to empowering young African American women, ages 7–17, by introducing them to and teaching computer programming and technology. In a wide-ranging, uplifting conversation, Kimberly recounts the twists and turns of her journey, from her upbringing in Memphis to the imposed career move into IT that eventually ignited a passion for technology, discussing the difficult times she went through as one of the only African American women studying engineering in college and the mentorship that got her through those rough times. She also shares the lessons she learned as a female leader in a male-dominated field and why she risked it all—even cashing out her 401(k)—to start Black Girls Code, as well as her advice for anyone feeling marginalized in the classroom or the workplace on how to make it through and thrive. We talk about the roadblocks to getting more women and women of color into the engineering field and the reasons diversity is critical to the world of technology: a broader range of voices at the table creates better products that can improve the lives of everyone. Tune in to the discussion with the incredible Kimberly Bryant for inspiration, motivation, and lessons you can apply to your life and creative work today.
Kimberly Bryant is the founder and executive director of Black Girls Code, a company with the goal of increasing the number of women of color in the digital space and providing them with the skills needed to occupy some of the 1.4 million expected computing positions. Kimberly has been widely recognized for her work with Black Girls Code. Business Insider named her one of the 25 most influential African Americans in technology in 2013, and LMKAT called her one of the “Talented Tenth” most influential blacks in technology. Kimberly was the inaugural recipient of the TechCrunch Include Diversity Award in 2016 and was included in YBCA’s 100 List. Black Girls Code received the Shorty Science Award in 2014 and was awarded $25,000 from Toyota that December to further tech education across the country. Kimberly was a keynote speaker at the 2016 Women Who Lead conference, was recognized at the 2016 Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, and was featured at SXSW 2016, where she spoke on a panel about equal pay for women in the tech industry. She is a Pahara-Aspen Institute fellow and serves on the board of SF City. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Kimberly began her career as an electrical engineer at Westinghouse Electric and DuPont and worked in a number of roles in the biotechnology industry, at companies including Genentech, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Merck, and Pfizer. She holds a degree in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University.