A Diverse Workforce Creates Better Products and Improves Lives

Diversity brings new experiences, perspectives, and ideas that help create better products and improves the quality of life.  It allows people to solve problems in unique ways and see things in ways that others can’t see. 

Here are three women of color who are redefining women’s roles in technology:

JOY BUOLAMWIN, GRADUATE STUDENT AT MIT

For instance, one researcher found that Artificial Intelligence (AI) facial recognition technology had trouble identifying her face.  After extensive testing, she found that AI wasn’t great with women’s faces, particularly women of color — Joy Buolamwini, a graduate researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), founded the Algorithmic Justice League to draw attention to the issue, and earlier this year she testified at a congressional hearing on the impact of facial recognition technology on civil rights.  Her research ignited conversations around bias in tech as well as discussions around AI ethics and regulations.  Having more women and people of color in tech brings these types of issues to the forefront, allowing them to ideally be mitigated in a proactive fashion.   

JASMINE CROWE, FOUNDER OF GOODRCO

Women of color don’t just bring new perspectives and solutions to the tech industry.  Technology tools like the one developed by GoodrCo founder, Jasmine Crowe, also has a lasting social impact.  GoodrCo’s technology empowers the food industry to reduce waste, and save money while doing good.  Using GoodrCo’s solution companies have the ability to track, account for and manage surplus food and organic waste.  The tool’s real-time data analytics allows them to measure waste, see their tax savings and feed more and waste less.

JAIA THOMAS, FOUNDER OF DIVERSEREPRESENTATION

There is much to learn when pursuing a career in Hollywood, whether behind the camera or in front.  Only 5% of attorneys listed in Hollywood Reporter’s “Power Lawyers 2019: Hollywood’s Top Attorneys” were people of color. Top talent agencies’ partners are Caucasians, which explains the #represeentationmattrs campaigns coming out of industry ERG groups.   And for aspiring black creatives and executives, access to the industry can be particularly difficult.  Entertainment and sports attorney, Jaia Thomas, in 2018 addresses these special issues that people of color face in entering the business, by founding Diverse Representation — a comprehensive hub for African American professionals in the entertainment industry. 

In honor of Black History Month, the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards Program (MNAiC) is proud to feature the vision and impactful work of Joy Buolamwin, Jasmine Crowe, and Jaia Thomas.  They are tremendous role models for young women in high school who may be searching for ways to combine their love for technology with a desire to provide positive social impact.  If you or the company that employs you is seeking ways to make a difference in the lives of young women of color, MNAiC offers many outlets to do so.  For more information, contact russell.fraenkel@metrostate.edu, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships.


ABOUT MINNESOTA ASPIRATIONS IN COMPUTING 

The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Awards Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to inspire, empower, and honor young women of high school age for their computing-related achievements and interests.  The program is supported by the Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence and numerous businesses and organizations.  The powerful story of honoree accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in April of each year, it’s just the beginning!  Over 300 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities, becoming accomplished practitioners and leaders in a variety of Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.