Black women in the tech industry are few and far between. It’s an even more daunting task to get young girls of color interested in STEM, let alone present them with the opportunity to learn skills like coding and computing.
Earlier this year, the National Association for Women & Information Technology reported that Black women comprised a measly 3 percent of the technology workforce in 2015. An even smaller percentage — .04 to be exact — of tech startups were led by African-American women, according to #ProjectDiane.
In an effort to bridge this longstanding race gap and foster diversity in the tech industry, search giant Google is providing space at its New York headquarters to house a blooming non-profit dedicated to teaching young girls of color how to code.
Google and Black Girls Code have teamed up to launch a sprawling 3,000-square-foot work space at the company’s Manhattan office, CNet reports. The tech giant purchased the building in 2010, which will now serve as the new home of Black Girls Code.
Valued at nearly $2.8 million, the new space will be used to introduce students of color to the world of technology, inspiring them to possibly pursue a career in tech. The non-profit also hopes to tap into Google’s mentorship and internship opportunities.
With Black Girls Code housed at its headquarters, the space also gives Google access to fresh talent.
“We need a tech sector that looks like the society it serves, and groups like Black Girls Code are ensuring that we can cultivate and access talent in communities of color,” said William Floyd, Google’s head of external affairs.
According to Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, Google has hosted a number of student workshops at its New York office in the past. Their new partnership will allow the non-profit to have a permanent work space at the company, CNet reports.
“They’re able to influence these girls that Google is a company they might want to come work for once they graduate,” Bryant said.
Being a computer programmer herself, Bryant launched Black Girls Code in 2011 with the hope of providing young and adolescent girls of color the opportunity to learn technology and computer programming skills.
“That, really, is the Black Girls Code mission: to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures,” the company’s website states.
Serving as the non-profit’s first New York office, the space will double as a classroom and an outpost for its East Coast programs, according to Fortune.
The great thing about the Google/Black Girls Code partnership is that it’s mutually beneficial: the non-profit will have access to Google’s resources, while the tech giant will have the opportunity to foster talent from a group of young Black women.
Given its diversity-lacking employee demographics, the partnership also gives Google the chance to interact with Black women on a daily basis, increasing the chance of future employment with the company. Just last year, the tech giant pledged to spend $150 million on inclusion and diversity programs inside and outside the company, Fortune reports.
“These kinds of programs are really important, and there are a lot of big reasons why, especially as we look at who is getting hired and promoted, and the kinds of barriers that are getting in the way,” David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, told the publication.
According to Fast Company, Wednesday’s launch event will feature a list of speakers including including New York City’s chief technology officer Minerva Tantoco and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer. Bryant will be there as well, alongside Google’s vice president for partnership sales, Bonita Stewart.
To date, Black Girls Code has worked with over 6,000 young girls and hopes to train at least 1,000 by the year 2040.