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Black women in tech: Competitive survival lies in the business of Earth maintenance

"Sisters in the Struggle" panel. May 4, 2018 Category: EventFeaturedMethodShort
As the director of the new Center for Inclusive Competitiveness at Temple University’s College of Engineering, cognitive psychologist Dr. Jamie Bracey has chatted with developmental tech businesses around the globe and believes there is a key sector from which Black women are largely absent: the business of maintaining the Earth.

“The world I’m in, the number one issue is global climate change,” Bracey said during Wednesday’s “Sisters in the Struggle: The Marginalized Power of Black Women Tech Founders” panel, hosted by Mogulette founder Brigitte Daniel at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Organizations ask, “‘Can you provide food, energy, water’ — [but] white boys are taking this.”

Women of color aren’t participating in the most beneficial and socially impactful sectors, she said.

According to Bracey, although Black women are “the most hustling people on the planet,” she believes “we haven’t been competitive socially, we have not been competitive professionally, we haven’t been competitive economically.”

Despite the fact that Black women owned a majority of all minority-women-owned business in 2017, they are consistently bringing in the least amount of relative revenue ($56 billion, compared to Latinas at $103 billion and Asian Americans at $188 billion). These numbers indicate Black women’s apparent lack of competitiveness may stem more from a lack of significant investment into these business, rather than from a lack of will or knowledge.

Like Bracy, Stimulus founder Tiffanie Stanard also believes the professional — and therefore, economic and social — future for Black women lies in their ability to create successful businesses in what she refers to as the “scalable tech” field. (Scalability represents a firm’s ability “to maintain or even increase its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands.”)

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Stanard said many Black women who enter the tech field focus on “sexy tech” — the latest apps, the coolest web function — but she believes the key to remaining truly competitive in the tech field lies in focusing on those ventures that won’t succumb to the ebb and flow of popular trends, as well as creating practicable solutions to issues that affect large-scale populations.

That includes the business of sustainably increasing food production and developing new technologies for clean water supply, but also less glamorous fields such as waste management.

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