February 22nd, 2021 Revature

My Tech Hero: Kimberly Bryant

by Elsa Burns

Welcome to #MyTechHero, a new series where we ask Revature staff, associates, and alums to name a leader in the tech world they find inspiring. First up is our Vice President of Recruitment, Elsa Burns, whose tech hero is Kimberly Bryant.

Kimberly Bryant is an engineer, an entrepreneur, and the founder of the nonprofit Black Girls CODE. Like many girls her age, Bryant was not brought up to think of computing as a natural field for a woman. But in school, she excelled in math and science, and that prompted a forward-thinking guidance counselor to suggest a career in engineering. Bryant won a scholarship to Vanderbilt and forged a career path at the cutting edge of electronics and later biotechnology. But throughout the industry, she found few women and even fewer women of color—a deficiency she blames partly on the stereotype of “the male geek.”

The inflection point came in 2010, when her daughter, then in middle school, attended a video game development camp at Stanford, only to find that she was one of the few students who were girls and the only one who was African American. Bryant decided to dedicate her life to making the tech industry more diverse. So she founded Black Girls CODE.

Eleven years later, the nonprofit has reached out to thousands of girls aged six to 17 growing up in communities without good access to tech education. Through workshops, after-school programs, summer schools, and hackathons, they learn everything from robotics to the blockchain. Some of the apps developed during these sessions have found their way onto the Apple and Google app stores.

To see the immediate impact, you only need to read some quotes from Black Girls CODE students: Logan, then age 12, said, “I learned from Ms. Kimberly Bryant that I can do whatever it is that I want to do because I am a Black Girl who Rocks!!!” And 17-year-old Aliana said, “Black Girls CODE helped me realize that coding isn’t just for a select few, but everyone and that all I need to do is put my mind where my heart is.”

As more black women enter the tech industry, Bryant’s work will have an exponential effect stretching far beyond the girls Bryant reaches directly; because, like Bryant, herself told PC Magazine in 2019, “If we can teach one girl to code, she’ll teach 10 more.” I would add to this that one woman’s success has the power to inspire thousands—as Kimberly Bryant herself has done!