Closing the Gender and Diversity Gap in Tech: A Conversation with Shireen Mitchell #BlackSTEMLikeMe

I had the pleasure of sitting down with my Geek Diva, tech superwoman, sista friend, Shireen Mitchell to talk about gender equality and diversity in STEM. If you don’t know Shireen, here is your chance to get to know her. If you do know her, here is your chance to get to know her a little better. She is a pioneer in the advancement the STEM for girls, women, PoC and WoC and she always, “keeps it real.”

An American entrepreneur, author, technology analyst and diversity strategist, Shireen Mitchell is the founder of Digital Sisters/Sistas, Inc and Stop Online Violence Against Women. Below she shares our chat about the tech gender gap and digital racial divide.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A CAREER IN STEM? Good question. I don’t know that I chose STEM. I was gifted with my abilities and a curiosity at a time when people were saying to me “What are you doing?” They were questioning how I knew what I knew and why things came so easy to me. I was a sick kid, so I wanted to become a doctor. Being terrorized by a medical professional, I wanted to make sure other doctors wouldn’t terrorize young kids like myself. The natural state for me was very analytical and technological. So, I started out with video games. Then I started hacking.

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A GIRL IN TECH? The concept of a girl in tech was far and few between in the 80s. But it was the highest point when women started entering the tech field. Research shows that women made up 36% of the tech fields during that time. Now, in 2017, we are down to 22 – 30% women. That’s not even counting black women and girls.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WORKING IN TECH? The biggest challenge is in hiring practices and policies. That is where the pipeline breaks. It’s the “I don’t see gender” and “I don’t see color” mentality that is the break in the pipeline. For women of color, both those things are consistent. We are having these conversations about Hidden Figures. What we did during that time was remove those women from the timeline, and we started to believe what was presented to us instead of the data and what the leaders in tech were saying. It was a false narrative, and it still is. It’s an illusion that women and women of color, in particular, don’t have the ability to be leaders in tech. A white 20-something dropout being considered an ideal leader in the tech industry is a completely false narrative. When we talk about Hidden Figures, we know who had the intelligence. We also know who has been removed from the storyline to allow the false narrative to populate.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER BLACKS WHO WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN STEM? They need to know they have the capacity. Learning STEM is the easy part. The part that we haven’t handled is the social part and the bias it perpetuates. I would also tell them not to let anyone tell you that you don’t know what you know. Don’t let anyone deter you from building your base in tech. Create a space for yourself. Use a model that only you have, and you can change the industry by who you are.

What challenges have you overcome in your STEM Career?

This post originally appeared in the NSBE #BlackSTEMLikeMe website

Photo Credit link here.

Telling Our OWN Story: Creating A Positive Image of Black Women

For All Your Media Needs
For Your Media Needs

Are you tired of seeing black women portrayed negatively in the media? I know I am! In an effort to combat that image, Danielle Ricks Productions and RixStar Studios have joined forces to create our first offerings for R&R MediaWorks. We are pleased to roll out two joint ventures that will focus on debunking the negative images of black women in the media and instead, tell the true story of who we black women are as dynamic, powerful, vulnerable, caring, professional women of color.

Our first offering is and EPK (Electronic Press Kit) for Denise J. Hart. She is a speaker, author, trainer and coach extraordinaire. Click on the YouTube video to hear her story.

 

Coming soon!

The Things Black Women Are Tired Of Hearing, a web series that takes a look at the lives, minds and psyche of women of color. Click on the YouTube video to check out the trailer and sign up to get notices so you will be the first to know when the web series hits the Internet!

 

Interested in hiring R&R MediaWorks to tell your story?

We are here to service your digital media, video production, photography and film needs. We are dedicated to making sure all of our clients, regardless of race or gender are promoted in the most positive light. R&R MediaWorks for YOU!

SXSWi 2011 with Foursquare, Mashable & Women in Tech

Sxsw_me

I recently returned from my second year at the Interactive track of South by Southwest, often affectionately referred to as the “Spring Break for Geeks.”  SXSWi 2011 brought us exciting panels and events by thought leaders, innovators and presentations who represent the brightest minds in emerging technology. It is here where new digital works, mobile apps, video games and innovative ideas get rolled out to those of us who are always looking for the next “big thing”. As we converged on Austin Texas March 11 – 20, my first impression of SXSWi 2011 was how much it has grown from last year. With more venues and attendees than ever, this was a Geek Diva, Gadget Girl dream.  One of the hottest trends, by far, what the incorporation of Group Texting and I’m excited to see where this technology is going. Another highlight for me was getting a chance to interview some of the power brokers and power users that I only see or communicate with online.

I got a chance to talk to Dennis Crowley, CEO and Founder of Foursquare at the Pepsi Max Foursquare Playground.

I also caught up with Pete Cashmore, CEO Mashable, which by the way was named  the most buzzed about brand during SXSWi in a study by Ad Age  and I also got a chance to talk to Romany Malco who hosted Geek Games at the Mashable House.

But the real highlight for me, as always, is geeking out with the Geek Divas.  I got a chance to speak with a couple of of the veteran SXSWi attendees, Lynne d Johnson, Senior Social Media Strategist at R/GA and SXSWi panelist Shireen Mitchell, founder of the no-profit Digital Sisters/Sistas.  I also spoke with first timer Beverly Jackson, Director of Marketing and Social Media for The Recording Academy/The GRAMMY Awards along with returning attendee and marketing professional, Shannon Mouton about the diversity, or lack thereof at SXSWi 2011. 

Here is what they had to say about Blacks in Tech and Women in Tech at SXSWi 2011. 

Want to find out where the ladies are… there’s an app for that

Fellas, if you’re looking for a date this Valentine’s Day and you can’t find them, just point your geolocation app in any direction and you’ll find a women in the closest proximity to where you are.

Wheretheladies.at has taken dating (AKA stalking) to a whole other level. Of course, the app is only available in San Francisco (no comment) but I’m going to need one of these apps in Washington, DC so I can find out where the men are! In a city where women outnumber men 13-1 I need all the help I can get!

Amplify’d from techcrunch.com

Geo-location has come to this: After three weeks in review, Wheretheladies.at, a web app that aggregates Foursquare checkins by the female gender, is now available on the iPhone. The concept OF A BIG COMPASS POINTING YOU IN THE DIRECTION OF LADIES is so unprecedented that Apple actually called co-founder Jeff Hodsdon on his cellphone to ask about the app during the review process.

Co-founded by Path’s Danny Trinh and Hodsdon, Wheretheladies.at the iPhone app ranks nearby locations by the number of females who have checked in (using a dictionary crawl and permutation logic when gender isn’t available) as well as helpfully points you in the direction of the critical mass of ladies in your vicinity.

We previously called this service “evolutionary advantage,” as it is essentially nerds using technology to circumvent Darwinism. The fittest now includes those who have smarts, or at least smartphones.

Hodsdon says that the difference between Wheretheladies.at and apps like Assisted Serendipity is temporal. Wheretheladies.at only counts check-ins within the past 30 minutes to ensure that ladies will be there when you arrive, “When it says 10 ladies are at Elbo Room that means in the last ~30min.  I think that is key.  It’s about where to head to right now.”

Right now the app only works in San Francisco, but the team is working on getting it to other cities. When I asked if they would ever build  Wheretheguys.at, Hodsdon quickly replied, “I’ll start on that now.”

Read more at techcrunch.com

I will not stalk my ex on Facebook, and other social media resolutions

A friend of mine (who I met through social media) shared this post with me and I just had to add my two cents.

 

I’ll admit that I stoped dating a guy because he “stalked” my Facebook page, my Tweets and my blog posts. I’m sorry but it was just creepy and he got even creepier as the days rolled on. I’ll also admit that I “unfriended” an ex when he got married… NOT because he got married… but because he admitted he kept up with my whereabouts on Facebook (uh, no you don’t buddy… you’re married now… don’t you worry about what I’m doing). Yet, I’m not one of those people who checks up on someone else’s social sites. You would think with my type A personality and my need to be controlling that I would be all over their pages but it’s really not my style. In fact, my single girlfriends who are also “power users” have a rule: If we are seriously dating someone, you cannot be their friend on Facebook, allow them to follow you on Twitter and if it gets really deep, you might even want to block them from reading your blog posts.

 

Here’s the rub… what if they are already your “friend” or “follower” and THEN you start dating them? Ahhhhh, dating in 2011 just got interesting didn’t it? I’ll be blogging about that very soon but if we’re dating you’ll never get a chance to see that post now will you?

I need a certain amount of freedom to be me. I need to check in on Foursquare, write about my feelings and post content without censorship. So, while some folks need help NOT stalking other people, I need help making sure other people don’t cyber stalk me! That is all…

Amplify’d from thenextweb.com

On Christmas day 2009, my ex defriended me on Foursquare and stopped following me on Twitter.

Fair enough, I suppose. I didn’t need to know what bars he was going to and he didn’t need to read my 140-character self-deprecations. But I noticed his unfollow immediately and I cried, really hard. Three glasses of mulled cider later and I began to meditate on the aspects of sharing our lives, our work and our love online.

For all the other modern messes out there, here are 5 New Year’s social media related resolutions:

1. I will not stalk my ex on Facebook. There are so many different reasons why Facebook makes breaking up with people exponentially harder. First, if you were in an established Facebook relationship, the ensuing broken relationship will fill up your friends’ newsfeeds, dragging your already broken heart out into the virtual highway. Second, it means you have access to his or her life, even after you are no longer a part of it. If you don’t have enough willpower to avoid viewing your ex’s photos like a slideshow, then feel free to de-friend him or her. Just realize, that chances are they won’t ask for your friendship on Facebook ever again so it could make for an awkward digital reconciliation .

2. I will be more discerning with my friend requests. On Facebook, if your News Feed looks anything like mine these days, then you need to start being more discerning with your friend requests. Ask yourself 3 questions: Have I met this person in real life? Do we have mutual friends? Do I want this person to see photos of me and status updates for the rest of my Facebook using life? If no, then hit ignore or keep them on the wait list until you can answer yes to all three of those questions, otherwise known as Facebook purgatory.

On Foursquare, this is even more important. You can’t seriously want people you don’t even know to know where you are every time you check-in. That’s downright dangerous. I receive loads of Foursquare friend requests from people I don’t even know, most of the time its because they are new to the platform and haven’t realized Foursquare is more personal in nature than other platforms. But some of the time, the requests are simply scary.

3. I will not “auto” anything on Twitter. Don’t auto-follow. Don’t auto-DM. Don’t auto-tweet. Don’t do anything that shortcuts the already less-than-personal nature of social media. Nobody likes being on the receiving end of auto-generated messages, so don’t be the person to send them. In other words, be a human.

4. I will not spam my “friends” asking them to “Like me.” So you’re an artist, a fashion designer, or a musician, or you just think you’re going to be famous because you live in L.A. and you can breathe properly. Don’t badger your entire network asking them to “Like” you. If you’re really trying to get your message out there and gain notoriety ask your Mom, Dad, your roommate, a couple close friends, your boss and your significant other, but then stop there. More importantly, do something worth notoriety. If its truly notable, people will notice. It’s already a shallow effort and chances are you’ll piss off quite a few people who would’ve “Liked you” on their own without having you request their approval. Lastly, you’re devaluing the entire “Like” process by guilting your friends into adding one more “Like” to their Facebook page.

5. I will forget about MySpace. MySpace had its day, along with Ace of Base, white washed jeans and JNCOs. There are much better ways to waste your time on the Internet.

Read more at thenextweb.com