Keynote: Diversity in the Innovation Economy

First up this morning was Laura Weidman Powers from Code2040 in a talk entitled Diversity in the Innovation Economy: Why It Matters And What You Can Do About It.

Laura started by talking about race (which is “super awkward” according to her). Even though is awkward for her she thinks it’s important for us to talk about. Two things are happening in America that make it important. First the software world is easting the world – it’s the key component in nearly every industry. The second is a massive demographic shift where by 2040 42% of the population will be Black or Latino.

Diversity in TechThis matters because if we look at the graph here we see that Blacks and Latinos are not filling rolls at the top of tech jobs. This matters to this audience because we’re a community and communities care about the people in them. In 2012 Laura’s team started 2040 because they cared about this issue. This organization brings high performing young Latino and Black software developers in to internships with top tech companies.

One of the 2040 students said: “Diversity isn’t the problem here, diversity is the opportunity.” So let’s see this as an opportunity to live up to our potential of universal access. We can draw more talent in to the tech sector by creating pathways for a more diverse audience to join and succeed in our industry.

Code2040 shows kids what they need to know about getting in to the tech industry – simple things like a GitHub account and an online portfolio. But what can we do? We can get involved in Code2040.

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