by Katy Beightol
Technology is a tool that facilitates dreams.
On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Team Austin hosted a Diversity Lunch & Learn where Austin educators, business leaders and government officials met to discuss how to expand diversity in technology.
The main goal of the event was to raise awareness, money and opportunities for underrepresented people in the Austin area to have access to better education for their career.
The event took place at Hack Reactor - whose mission is to empower students to succeed in new careers in Software Engineering through their accelerated, best-in-class programs. They’re an alternative choice from college by offering more affordable options while emphasizing a welcoming atmosphere to a diverse group of people.
Diversity in technology is vital. The people creating applications, software, programs, websites, etc. should represent the audience the technology is for. That way the right questions are asked.
It is also important to establish products and education programs that are inviting to everyone.
During the event, Isto, a software developer, told us his story. Isto is gay and never felt welcomed in tech education because most people enrolled are straight, white men.
“I went to UT with degree in English and Performance Arts. In my mid-twenties, I didn’t really know what I was doing with my career. I was working at a non-profit and Habitat for Humanity, but I wanted to dive into tech. I had a natural act for it. But I didn’t always feel welcome in tech.
Hack Reactor opens that door to everyone. It is inviting and allows everyone to achieve and engage in conversations with peers. If we have a diverse group of students, then more questions are asked and more are answered.” - Isto, Software Developer, Previous Student at Hack Reactor.
A few days before the event, Reza Piri (President, Team Austin) and Lisa Fritsch (Executive Director, Team Austin Foundation), met with Mayor Adler of Austin to discuss this exact issue. Video link is here.
All three agree Austin needs to establish better resources to create more tech job opportunities for everyone in Austin. And it starts with education.
"The problem is we're not doing a good job making connections … [we must] demand these pipelines exist and recognize the ones that do exist." - Mayor Adler, City of Austin
Meaning - Austin needs to work on promoting these educational options to everyone in the community.
The Lunch & Learn was instrumental in sparking great ideas - so much so, the attendees plan to meet again for further planning.
Want to get involved?
Contact Lisa Fritsch at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further questions about the Team Austin Foundation.
Also, don't forget to RSVP for our Pre-Interactive Workspace Revolution Panel & Party to mingle with like-minded professionals and our TEAM!