Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Java IoT, @CloudExpo, Government Cloud

Blog Feed Post

African-Americans and STEM Careers: Getting a Foot in the Door

Technology leadership is driven by the innovation and creativity of science, technology, engineering & mathematics professionals

By Sandra K. Johnson

Technology leadership is driven by the innovation and creativity of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. STEM careers offer some of the highest-paying jobs and the potential for a high quality of life. However, the realization of such promises has not benefited all segments of the U.S. population, including African-Americans. As we celebrate Black History Month, I share a few facts on this issue, suggest sources for solutions and profile African-American technology trailblazers.

Silicon Valley's most innovative technology companies have reached phenomenal success levels. There are over 320 million people in the U.S.: 77.7 percent White, 17.1 percent Hispanic, 13.2 percent African-American, 5.3 percent Asian and 51 percent women, according to the U.S. Census. However, Silicon Valley technology companies have employee populations that are 64 percent White, 21 percent Asian, 6 percent Hispanic, 3 percent African-American and 6 percent other. This shows a 10-point gap in the African-American population.

Companies with employees from diverse backgrounds tend to be more creative and profitable. A large body of evidence exists to substantiate this assertion. Diverse collaborative teams leverage a broader perspective of experiences and ideas. They create more innovative products and services that appeal to a wider, global audience. Intel's chief executive Brian Krzanich recently stated that "without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers."

This complex issue requires creative solutions. Some of the roadblocks include the relatively small pipeline of African-American STEM students, the lack of support and visibility of role models, and the hostile environments encountered by some students and professionals. A few solutions are listed here, including building relationships with schools with large African-American STEM student populations and requiring that candidates from diverse backgrounds be interviewed for STEM positions. From my own experience, a few years ago I spent two hours, over dinner, offering encouragement and advice to a discouraged, young African-American employee who was ready to quit. Within six months, she was the team leader for her department.

Listed below are additional, suggested actions for ruminating on potential solutions:

  • Attend the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Awards Conference. Some of the U.S.' top technology leaders attend this annual event.
  • Attend the National Society of Black Engineers National Conference. NSBE is a student-run organization. Nearly 10,000 students attend this annual conference.
  • Ask some of the top global technology leaders who are African-American for input. Their trailblazing experiences and ideas can provide valuable insight. (You can start by contacting those profiled below or asking me).

Blazing the trail
Here are five technology trailblazers who walk among us. They have made valuable contributions to our global society and provide inspiration for many. We honor them as innovative African-Americans who have changed the world.

Faye A. Briggs, Ph.D., is a retired Intel Fellow, the company's top technical position. He was the technical visionary behind Intel's billion-dollar server business. Dr. Briggs co-founded Axil Computers, which designed and sold multiprocessor computers and storage systems. He is now the CEO and founder of Niminq Inc., a technology consulting firm, and an adjunct professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Mark Dean, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a retired IBM Fellow, the company's top technical position. He was also chief engineer for the development of several IBM PC offerings and holds three of the nine patents for the original IBM PC. This includes the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) "bus," earning him election to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Dr. Dean is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Carol Y. Espy-Wilson, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Maryland, and director of the Speech Communication Laboratory. Dr. Espy-Wilson founded OmniSpeech LLC, a technology startup company with offerings to address the issue of background noise in cellphone conversations. She is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

Marc Hannah, Ph.D., co-founded Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), a company that became well-known for its computer graphics technology. He was the company's principal scientist, creating computer programs that were used to create effects for movies like "Jurassic Park," "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," "The Hunt for Red October," and "Field of Dreams." His programs have also been used to create television commercials and the opening introduction for Monday Night Football.

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Dr. Jackson is a theoretical physicist and the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT in any field. She is the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of several corporate boards and national and international advisory boards. She is also a former researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

What can you do in your organization to promote diversity? Can you share additional success stories? Who do you consider a technology trailblazer?

(This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. To learn more about tech news and analysis visit TechPageOne. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don't necessarily represent Dell's positions or strategies.)

Bookmark and Share

Cloud Musings

( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2012)

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, founder of the GovCloud Network, is an independent technology and business consultant specializing in mission critical solutions. He has served in various senior management positions including VP & GM Cloud Services NJVC, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and VP Program Management Office at JP Morgan Chase. His formal education includes MSEE (Computer Engineering), MA National Security & Strategic Studies and a BS Aerospace Engineering. Jackson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1979 and retired from the US Navy earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Airborne Logistics and Airborne Command and Control. He also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide. Kevin is the founder and author of “Cloud Musings”, a widely followed blog that focuses on the use of cloud computing by the Federal government. He is also the editor and founder of “Government Cloud Computing” electronic magazine, published at Ulitzer.com. To set up an appointment CLICK HERE

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...