It’s easy to assume that when women are doing “better”, all women benefit; however, data tends to lack nuance as the experiences of Black women have been historically left out.

The presence of women in technological industries has increased from 229,700 to 423,900 between  2017 to 2021. Currently, there are around 12,000 Black women in the IT workforce, and the number in senior positions in tech is even less. This leads us to conclude that there is a shortfall of at least 20,000 Black women in the tech industry in order to achieve true representation.

There are few reports detailing the experiences of Black women and non-binary people within the tech sector. The recently published BCS report tackles just that. Conducted by Inclusion Month sponsors, Coding Black Females, the report showcases the imminent need for Black women’s voices on the issues they face in the tech industry by capturing real experiences of the tech industry and providing meaningful recommendations.

“It is not up to Black women to rid themselves of the racist, sexist ideology placed on them by others”

The report documents the challenges Black women face due to historical tropes and stereotypes such as the ‘Angry Black Woman.’ One interviewee stated, “The most damaging term to a woman’s career is ‘angry.’ I have been called this by both genders for asking focused questions.” As a result of both sexist and racist beliefs, Black women are seen to not fit the tech archetype, but it is not up to Black women to rid themselves of the racist, sexist ideology placed on them by others.

In summary, the recommendations from the report included:

  • Interview and recruitment practices must be more inclusive
  • Leadership should set an example
  • A diverse, open culture goes beyond diversity policy
  • Partner with groups who can help you

Ensuring Black women have a seat at the table

Black women and Black non-binary people find very few documents that detail their experiences and the harm caused by the negative implications of our intersectionality, namely race, gender and class. This report served as a mouthpiece for these very unique experiences.

This work was not only to capture the real experiences but to also ensure that meaningful recommendations were provided for Black women by Black women. Although reports have been published in the past, until now, they have not addressed intersectionality in its entirety and much less created real opportunities for employment and progress in the industry. 

Amplifying the voices of thousands of Black women in the UK and millions around the world was central to BCS’ mission whilst building this report. Rashik Parmar CEO, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, explains, “We will only be able to build the systems that serve everyone if the diversity of humanity is represented in the project teams that design and build these systems. This is why the BCS has focused on practical actions that are informed by data, to highlight the issues to be addressed.”

Coding Black Females highlights the importance of community and creates a space where Black women can learn, grow and flourish amongst others who truly understand the challenges faced within institutions of employment as they have witnessed them first hand and provide each other with a support system like no other. 

A Black women wearing grey is sat on a sofa holding a MacBook and looking at the screen