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6 Technological Innovations Pioneered By Black Women

By The Grace Hopper Program Team

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Throughout history, Black tech professionals have been at the forefront of technological advancement and innovation, leading the way for some of the most well-known and widely used technologies today. However, many populations, including Black individuals, remain underrepresented in the tech industry.

According to a 2022 report on the state of diversity in tech published by The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Black individuals make up 13% of the U.S. population, but just 7% of the computing workforce. Representation of Black women in tech is even more scarce at only 3% (compared to the 21% of computing roles held by all women).

Companies in recent years have slowly begun to diversify hiring practices as numerous studies continue to show that diversity in tech drives global innovation and paves the way for the future. These efforts include specialized initiatives aimed at addressing a historical lack of representation in tech for Black professionals, as well as for women and nonbinary professionals.

Learn about some of the most significant Black women innovators in technology and how their work impacts our daily lives.

Lisa Gelobter: The GIF File Format

Lisa’s innovations in computer programming formed the basis of Shockwave’s ActiveX animation software. This simplified video publishing and led to the creation of the gif file format as well as the tech behind video streaming services like Hulu. She also heads the tEQuitable organization, which provides a confidential sharing platform to help address bias and discrimination in the workplace.

Kimberly Bryant and Christina Jones: Black Girls Code

Founded in 2011 by Software Engineer Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code teaches basic programming principles, leadership skills, and creativity empowerment to Black girls and gender nonconforming youth of color. Under current CEO Christina Jones’s leadership, the organization aims to place 1 million girls in tech by 2040.

Annie Easley: Foundational Rocket Science Technology

Annie Easley’s computer programming code became critical to the development and ongoing programming of electric cars, space shuttles, and the Centaur upper-stage rocket. She’s also credited with innumerable contributions to race and gender rights and representation in the workplace—known throughout NASA and beyond as a committed teammate, ally, and mentor for Black women in tech.

Dr. Gladys West: The Global Positioning System

Using a combination of mathematics, computer programming, and data analytics, West created a model of the Earth’s surface using satellite data. This served as one of the foundations of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Dr. Patricia Bath: Cataract Surgery Device

A professional ophthalmologist, Dr. Bath also revolutionized the medical tech world with her invention of the Laserphaco probe—a device used for the removal of cataracts. In addition, she possesses 4 additional patents for medical technology and has served as a career-long advocate for racial minorities in the public health sector.

Pursue a Career in the Diversifying World of Tech

With companies striving to grow diversity in tech, more opportunities are opening for groups that have traditionally faced systemic barriers. DEI-focused coding bootcamps, like those offered by the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, provide an accelerated pathway for women and non-binary professionals to prepare for roles like software engineer, web developer, and web designer.

Learn more by exploring the Grace Hopper Program!

Accessible Tech Education for Women and Non-Binary Students.

Explore the Grace Hopper Program at Fullstack Academy, an immersive software engineering course for women and non-binary students