Major tech companies will invest millions of dollars into recruitment programs, yet they don’t seem to be particularly interested in diversifying their staff. Black, Latino, and indigenous people are the most underrepresented in the tech industry, with labor statistics showing fewer than 10% holding positions at major tech companies. Furthermore, women only make up about a third of these companies, with only 3% represented by women of color.
Felecia Hatcher is one South Florida woman working to challenge these numbers. Hatcher is a world-renowned author, entrepreneur, public speaker and educational consultant. She describes herself as an average “C” student who defied expectations and went on to graduate college with over $100,000 in scholarships. Hatcher has been honored by the White House on multiple occasions, most recently in 2014 when she was awarded the Champion of Change for STEM Access and Diversity for her work with Code Fever.
Code Fever is a nonprofit organization based in Miami that serves to inspire young people of color to create their own tech enterprises and become leaders across STEM fields. The foundation offers coding and other tech programs, as well as entrepreneur mentorships, to help these students feel confident in their goals. “The talent and the demand are there,” says Hatcher.
She is also the founder and president of Black Tech Week, a six-day conference taking place September 25th through the 30th that works to connect emerging young innovators with startups and companies from across the U.S. The event has attracted thousands since its establishment in 2015 and continues to grow. Black Tech Week recently received a $1.2 million grant from the Knight Foundation that will serve to expand the program’s resources and outreach over the next three years.