It is the first time ever that a diversity accolade has been presented at the high-profile industry award gala put on by tech blog TechCrunch. It comes as Silicon Valley is coming under the increasing pressure to tackle the lack of diversity in the technology sector.
Hosted by comedian Chelsea Peretti, this year’s event took place on Monday at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of Startups and Technology’ the awards recognize and celebrate the most compelling startups, internet and technology innovations of the year.
Monday night’s ‘Include Diversity Award’ was given to the person who has made the biggest contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. The 2015 finalists were: Kimberly Bryant; Erica Baker; Joelle Emerson, Paradigm; Laura Weidman Powers (runner-up), Code2040; and Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Trans*H4CK.
Bryant founded Black Girls Code (BGC) in 2011 after it became painfully obvious that something needed to be done to address the dismal numbers of minority women in the technology sector. The non-profit hosts workshops and programs for girls of color, ages 7-17, in all aspects of technology, from robotics to programming languages.
In just a few years since its inception, Black Girls Code is making waves. The organization, which is now headquartered in Oakland, California, has branched out to six U.S. cities and launched in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“It’s an economic and huge social issue for this day and time, that girls of color, that people of color, underrepresented communities, have the tools to compete,” said Bryant in an interview with UrbanGeekz last year. “I really feel strongly that technology can be a tremendous driver for social change.”
Through Black Girls CODE, Bryant hopes to teach 1 million girls across the world how to code by 2040.
“We’re really seeing our organization take a leadership role in this whole conversation around tech diversity and tech inclusion,” she added. “That’s a tremendous testimony to work that our volunteers and supporters have done over the last few years.”
Other big winners at the Crunchies included Slack who took home the Fastest Rising Startup award and Uber who picked up the Best Overall Startup award.
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