Kimberly Bryant Has Leveled the Digital Playing Field for Black Women
By Karen Schwartz
Who: Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code
Backstory: When electrical engineer Kimberly Bryant's daughter Kai was entering middle school, she told her mother she wanted to be a video game tester when she grew up. Bryant's reply? "I said, 'You know, you can be the one who actually makes the games.'" When Bryant, 47, signed Kai up for a summer program at Stanford University that teaches kids how to code, she discovered her daughter was the only African-American, and one of just a handful of girls, enrolled. "I just knew how lonely and isolated she would feel," Bryant says.
The Reboot: In 2011, she launched Black Girls Code, dedicated to closing the digital divide for girls of color. The organization, which now has chapters in seven U.S. cities as well as one in Johannesburg, South Africa, has taught more than 3,000 girls ages 7 to 17 skills like robotics, video game design, app development, and computer programming.
The Vision: By 2040, Bryant hopes to have reached 1 million girls. "This is an issue that is holding us back, not just as women, but also as Americans, because there's so much talent here that we haven't cultivated," she says. "We want to keep driving the needle forward."
Success Stories: One Black Girls Coder11-year-old Charmienne Butterfield, from the Bay Areabuilt an app called Doll Finder, to connect people buying and selling dolls, available for download on Android devices. As for Bryant's daughter, she's now a proud member of her high school robotics team.
Photo via Peter Hapak