Celebrating Black History: Technologists that Continue to Inspire, Motivate Today’s Leaders
Initiatives to help tech businesses be more diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) are starting to make inroads for traditionally underrepresented groups to find more opportunity within the IT industry.
Many companies believe DEI programs are the right thing to do and/or are good for business, according to a 2021 CompTIA survey—but there’s still a lot of work to do. One way to raise awareness of DEI benefits is to recognize Black tech pioneers who have opened doors and blazed new trails—inspiring others with both their innovations and their courage for overcoming barriers in their way. We asked members of CompTIA’s Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community to submit names of famous black technologists that have encouraged and motivated them during their careers. Here is who they nominated to highlight:
Dr. Tarika Barrett, CEO, Girls Who Code
“Dr. Tarika Barrett is the current CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that aims to close the gender gap in technology which has served more than 450,000 students across the globe. A quick look at Dr. Barrett’s career will show that she is a servant leader who has been dedicated to addressing inequities faced by underrepresented groups in education and the workforce.
“In her time at Girls Who Code, Dr. Barrett has supported the non-profit’s global expansion and has led the free Summer Immersion and After-School Clubs Program which has reached hundreds of thousands of girls worldwide, more than half of whom are Black, Latinx or from low-income backgrounds.
Through her work and leadership, she is helping young girls realize that careers in technology and programming are possible and in doing so, building up the tech pipeline of the future.
“To me, Dr. Barrett inspires commitment to community and the power of mentorship. She also reminds us collectively to be Brave and challenge the status quo.” – Ashley Martinez, digital experience supervisor, TD SYNNEX
Tia Hopkins, founder of Empow(H)er Cybersecurity
“Tia Hopkins is a visionary. I became acquainted with her during my personal quest to upskill in cybersecurity. It was difficult to successful find Black women leading in the field as a thought leader and a mutual colleague shared her profile with me. She immediately stood out to me. Tia is the Founder of Empow(H)er Cybersecurity, an “organization focused on providing a safe space for women of color interested in or currently working in the field of cybersecurity.” I have attended several training sessions with the group, and the environment has always been motivating, supportive and kind- features not easily found in the entry-level cybersecurity space. Tia is warm, funny, and down-to-earth, personality traits becoming of a mentor and a coach.
“Tia also leads in the boardroom and the classroom. She is a Cybersecurity executive at eSentire and is also an adjunct professor of Cybersecurity at Yeshiva University. She is paving the way for junior technologists to enter the field of cybersecurity, to upskill, and to pursue roles that will launch their career. Her dedication to the community is boundless and her belief in the potential of women is evidenced by the frequent motivational messages and job leads she shares with the women in Empower(H)er. She has shared her failures, her moments of clarity, encourages neurodiverse women to find their niche and not to give up, and she is creating ripples of success in tech for women of color everywhere.
“Tia has shown me that having grit, being driven, and loving what you do is important to achieving success. What is more important however, is the lesson she teaches by continuously extending her hand to bring other women into the field. Her example has inspired me to be my best and to ensure that my personal vision includes one of service to others.
“On the Empower(H)er site, Tia shares, “I want others to feel empowered by my successes, my failures, and my lessons learned. When young girls and women of color hear my story or witness my journey and the things I’ve overcome, I want them to see where I am today and know for themselves with an extremely high degree of confidence that they can do it as well.
“Mission Accomplished Tia, well done.” – Kassandra Pierre, Senior Associate, Regulatory Compliance, PwC