Q: Please tell us about yourself and the path that led you to the creation of Coding While Black.
Liddell: I wanted to change the messaging around the achievement and numbers of blacks in technology. My reality was that I saw high-achieving blacks innovating in tech on a daily basis but the media at the time was a constant stream of conversation about how there were few blacks in technology.
Q: What is Coding While Black and why was it created?
Liddell: Coding While Black is a web development collective that leverages tech to remove barriers and create opportunities for blacks who are working and doing business in tech. The primary purpose is to tell a different story about blacks in tech. We do this by connecting, educating, and empowering blacks in tech.
Q: What is next for Coding While Black?
Liddell: We are moving from an experimental phase where we discovered what the needs are and our ability to meet them to a stage where we are making our program more sustainable and scalable. This includes fundraising, hiring, and being more focused how we implement our program. Our primary focus is improving the quality of our education and making it more accessible. We’ll also be doing more advocacy to for our audience.
Q: In your opinion, what are the top 3 reasons for the low participation of African-Americans in STEM?
In no particular order:
· The messaging about the lack of blacks in technology makes tech seem uninviting
· Unnecessary barriers to career and educational opportunities.
· Lack of access to career, financial, business, and similar opportunities or information about these opportunities.
Q: How can we increase the number of African-Americans in STEM?
Liddell: Not being afraid to have conversation about racial diversity in tech. At the same time, it is important to do more than have a conversation and spread awareness. We need to support targeted programs and opportunities about both general diversity and racial diversity.