10 Black Female Leaders in Tech to Watch

WilliamWilliam Hill is a Software Engineer at Lawrence Livermore Lab and former Senior Instructor of Hackbright Academy’s part-time Intro to Programming night course. He developed a passion for teaching while earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Mississippi State University.  He has a drive for increasing diversity in tech and has volunteered with Black Girls Code, the Hidden Genius Project and is a member of /dev/color. When he isn’t churning out code, he enjoys playing basketball, strength training, and playing video games. Follow him on twitter at @emjay_hill.

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

Despite becoming one of the most educated segments of the population in the past decade, black women continue to be woefully underrepresented in the tech industry. According to recent reports by NCWIT, black women only hold 3% of computing jobs . The problem is not being ignored, though. Organizations such as Black Girls ROCK! and Black Girls Code are doing tremendous work in exposing black girls to coding to strengthen the pipeline. Industry professionals have gotten in on the act as well by using their energy and expertise to create opportunities for younger generations. Here we highlight 10 dynamic black women who are making an impact on their company and community!

Sheena Allen


Sheena Allen Headshot

Sheena Allen is a founder and CEO at Sheena Allen Apps and InstaFunds. She earned her B.A. in Film and B.S. in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. Sheena Allen has grown her app company, Sheena Allen Apps, to have millions of downloads and is featured in She Started It, a documentary that focuses on 5 women working on their startups . She has successfully completed an internship program back in her home state of Mississippi for local college students and often speaks to minorities about the possibilities in the tech industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @whoisSheena.

Jasmine Bowers


Jasmine Bowers

Jasmine Bowers is a PhD student at the University of Florida. She earned her B.S. degrees in mathematics and computer science from Fort Valley State University and an M.S. in computer science from North Carolina A&T State University.

Over the last year, Jasmine was named a GEM Fellowship scholar and a Committee of 200 scholar finalist.

Over the years, she has worked with several community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Recently, she served as a guest speaker at the InTech one-day tech camp for girls. In addition to her interests in computer science and cyber security, she also has a passion for financial education. After graduating, she visited her alma mater FVSU to teach students about budgeting during their annual iLead Leadership Conference.

Follow her on Twitter at @JasmineDBowers.

Khalia Braswell

 N7wWGrdcKhalia Braswell is a User Experience Designer at Apple, Inc. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from North Carolina State, and her M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Last year, Khalia had the chance to attend The White House’s first annual Computer Science Tech Jam to kick off Computer Science Education Week. She was afforded this opportunity, in part, because of her non-profit INTech, whose mission is to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry.

Follow her on Twitter at @KhaliaBraswell.

Dr. Jamika Burge



Dr. Jamika Burge owns a startup, Design and Technology Concepts, that specializes in computer science design and education, where she has worked with Google and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to develop strategies for technical inclusion. She is also the new Senior Manager for Research Curriculum and Outreach at Capital One. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she won an IBM Research Fellowship.

Jamika has worked across multiple sectors, from IBM Research to Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and she is active in computer science education and STEM preparedness efforts, providing expertise for a host of funded programs funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Computing Research Association (CRA).  

Follow her on Twitter at @JDBurge.

Lauren Frazier


Lauren Frazier

Lauren Frazier is a Software Engineer at Google. She earned both her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania. have been a professional iOS developer since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Lauren was the lead engineer on Google Wallet for iOS before moving to the Android Wear team. She is a member of /dev/color and a tutor with the Second Start Adult Literacy Program in Oakland. She was recently featured in Techies, a photo project focused on sharing stories of tech employees in Silicon Valley.

Follow her on Twitter at @laurenfraz.

Hadiyah Mujhid



Hadiyah Mujhid is the founder and developer at Playpen Labs, a software and design company. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Hadiyah has fifteen years experience working as a software engineer. Her experience spans from working with government agencies to launch satellites into orbit, to more recently helping startups to launch web products. In addition to being an engineer, she’s an advocate for underrepresented groups working in tech. She created a non-profit called Black Founders to increase the number of black tech entrepreneurs. She’s also the founder of HBCU to Startup, which serves as a bridge for students and alumni from historically black colleges interested in working in tech.

Follow Hadiyah on Twitter at @hadiyahdotme.

Tiffany Price


Tiffany PriceTiffany Price is the Community Engagement Manager at the Kapor Center for Social Impact. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry and International Studies from Emory University and an M.A. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University.  She also graduated from Actualize, a Ruby on Rails web development bootcamp.  Tiffany serves on the advisory board of /dev/color, a network for black software engineers, and is a mentor for STEMinist, a new data science program for underrepresented women at UC Berkeley.

Follow her at @thoodprice.

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge


Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge is the Founding Portfolio Services Director at Kapor Capital. She co-launched the first ever VC-backed diversity pledge, called the Founders’ Commitment. In less than one year, 84 Kapor Capital portfolio companies signed on. Mandela works with diversity and inclusion expert and Kapor Capital Partner, Dr. Freada Kapor Klein, to develop custom workshops and resources to help these companies fulfill their commitment to build diverse teams and inclusive workplaces. Mandela earned her B.A. in Intercultural Communication, with a minor in Spanish, from Pepperdine and her M.A. in Education, Administration & Policy from Loyola Marymount University. In 2014, Mandela’s name graced the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education list, in 2015 Mandela gave her first TEDx speech, and in 2016, Mandela was named to the Case Foundation’s Top 50 Inclusive Entrepreneurship Champions list, The Registry’s 40 Under 40 Tech Diversity: Silicon Valley list, and LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Venture Capital and EntrepreneurshipShe’s the author of three Top 20 Medium Posts, and My White Boss Talked About Race in America, This is What Happened, a piece that went viral and has been featured in Medium, LinkedIn, Huffington Post, and Black Enterprise magazine.

Follow Mandela on Twitter @MandelaSH.

Kamilah Taylor


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Kamilah Taylor is a Senior Software Engineer at LinkedIn. She earned her M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and her B.S. in both Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus (in Jamaica).

While at LinkedIn she’s worked on multiple project launches, most recently the new LinkedIn Learning app, an online learning platform. Other projects include the complete rewrite and redesign of LinkedIn’s flagship app, messaging, mobile accessibility and infrastructure. Previously she did robotics at Wolfram Research and in graduate school at UIUC. Kamilah is a co-author of the recently released “Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories”, and is helping to organize the inaugural Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica. She volunteers for many organizations aimed at encouraging more women and people of color to choose STEM as a career field, including Black Girls Code, Technovation, MEDA, and the Palisadoes Foundation.

Follow Kamilah on twitter at @kamilah.

Rachel Walker


Rachel Walker is an engineer at Chalk Schools. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Rachel helped build out the part-time educational program at Hackbright Academy that served over 100 students and recently made her first open-source contribution. She is regional director for Lesbians Who Tech East Bay and regularly volunteers at hackathons for local youth.

Follow her on Twitter at  @Raychatter.

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women. 

Want to Learn to Code? Start Free Today!

Anna AkullianAnna Eventbrite is the Program Manager of Part-Time Education  at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco. Prior to working at Hackbright, she was an engineer at Schoolzilla, a teacher, a researcher at Children’s Hospital, Oakland, and a Hackbright fellow herself. When she’s not at Hackbright, you can find her hiking in the Berkeley Hills or biking around the city.

Coding is powerful. It should be in the hands of smart and critically thinking people like you! It’s a super-useful skill these days, whether you want to become a software engineer, or are just living in the world today and want to understand the jargon and how things work. So many things that we have and use today are based on code. People and policy, not technology, are the solution to the world’s systematic problems. But smart people who learn and understand coding can go out into the world to create and do important things.

If you know you want to code, but aren’t sure where to start, here are three steps to get rolling on a sure-to-succeed path.

Step 1: Watch this video

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The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms is a 50-minute BBC documentary from 2015. It shows all the myriad ways, all the surprising places, that code now serves and influences our personal lives and society at large. Movies, travel, medicine — all these and more have been empowered by computerized math and logic we may not recognize when we look right at it.

You’ll come away much more aware of all the potential for understanding and building the world we are moving into.

Step 2: Spend 60 minutes with Python

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Sign up for free at Codecademy, which hosts a free hands-on Python course that takes an estimated 13 hours to complete. (Look for the link to the course catalog to find the Python course, and to see the many paths a coding career can take. You don’t need to upgrade to the paid Pro membership.)

Why Python? Because it’s one of the most in-demand languages today in many areas of computing, from recreational websites to serious data science. That’s why it’s also the highest-paying language to know for new engineers. Once you’ve learned one programming language, learning others is much easier. So you might as well start with the one that currently maximizes your opportunities.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with just one hour of the tutorial. You’ll get an overview of concepts, and you’ll write and run your first simple Python program. That will give you a basic idea of how code works, and what a software development environment looks like.

Slow and steady learning will get you where you want to be. You’ll be spending a lot more time playing with Python — a lot, because coding is addictive rather than a chore. But before you do, there are some people you should meet.

Step 3: Meet your local community

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Don’t go it alone! Get out and meet local fellow coders, especially Python coders to start. For one thing, a support group will encourage you, reward you, guide you, and make you feel you are part of something real, rather than just sitting alone at your keyboard.

Second, personal networks are how most jobs of any kind are found today. The people clicking through resumes and applications won’t know and recognize your skills and potential. Real-life colleagues with whom you frequently interact will ignore the keywords on your LinkedIn profile and recruit you for your actual skills and personal traits they’ve come to know.

There are PyLadies meetings in cities around the world. There, women who work and play with Python gather to share ideas, questions, and work opportunities. Don’t worry about being seen as a novice at your first meeting. It’s OK. Everyone was on Day One once. Tell them you’ve done an hour of Codecademy and will be going home to do more after the meeting — unless they invite you for coffee first!

If there isn’t a PyLadies meeting you can get to, google “python meetup” for cities and towns near you. There are Python people everywhere.

Congrats, you’re coding!

That’s it! You’ve taken your first steps into a new life, and already have new friends with whom to make the journey. You’ll also find them — and others — online. Stack Overflow is where you can talk about coding. GitHub is the go-to place to peruse and share working Python (and every other language) examples with other programmers. Both are also places where managers looking to hire new engineers look for promising candidates.

Bookmark our list 7 Online Coding Resources For Beginners for more tutorial and help sites.

As you progress, you may want some classroom education. Hackbright offers a part-time Intro to Programming night course in San Francisco that runs five hours per week, for 12 weeks. You may find similar courses in your area.

Whatever you do, keep coding, whenever you have even a few minutes. Once you get rolling, it’s as addictive as Facebook. The more time you spend editing, running and debugging algorithms on your screen, the better — and better — you’ll get. Welcome to the club!

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women. 

8 Awesome Gift Ideas for Techies

We all have that person on our list that makes it impossible to get them some generic accessory or nicknack, their unique interests don’t exactly offer outsiders easy and abundant gift ideas. Here at Hackbright we can’t help you much with that uncle whose only passion is fly fishing or your super minimalist, hobby-less roommate, but we do know a whole lot of incredible technical women. So we reached out to our network to find out what exactly women hackers are hoping to receive this holiday season. Hopefully, their wish list will provide a little inspiration for anyone stumped by the girl geek on their list. (Or, feel free to indulge and just splurge on any of these ideas for yourself!)

Eye glasses

1. Computer glasses

Hannah Wright, founder of HR Partner, is personally hoping to find a set of Gunnar Intercept 24K Computer Glasses in her stocking ($79.99). “Not only are the Gunnar Intercept glasses made for high-resolution viewing, but they can also help prevent eye strain, making it much easier to stare at a computer for hours at a time,” she told Hackbright in an email. Several other women mentioned a generic desire for computer glasses too.


2. Arduino kit

If the technical woman in your life is focused primarily on software for work, maybe she would enjoy toying around with something more hands on for fun in 2017. Australian developer Judith Gammie certainly would. That’s why she’d love to get an Arduino kit this year.

“As a developer, I spend my days deep in lines of code. I’ve always wanted to tinker with some hardware, which is why I’d love an Arduino kit,” she explained. “I could do some cool automation stuff with it, or even make a weird little musical instrument.” 

tinsel headphones

3. Awesome headphones

When we reached out to technical women via email and social media to see what they were craving one thing came up again and again — awesome headphones! Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant is dreaming of “new stylish Tinsel headphones. As much as I love my Bose headphones they are not always the ‘cutest’ apparatus to wear and Tinsel offers a great, lighter, and more stylish option that I’m interested in giving a try,” she wrote us.  

Engineer Lori J. Williams meanwhile recommends gift buyers pick up a pair of AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones ($129.95), which she owns and loves. Lots of other ladies got in touch with a wish for an excellent pair of noise cancelling headphones. It seems you can’t go wrong with this idea.


4. Stitch Fix

Geek girls like to look stylish as the next woman, which makes Stitch Fix an awesome gift idea. The subscription personal styling service provides all the fashion without any of the hassle. “A personal stylist online who can save me trips to the mall on a busy schedule? I’ll take it,” adds Bryant.  


5. Dyson hairdryer

Similarly, Hackbright alumna, Cristina Pastelero, is hoping for a gift that combines a love of looking your best with an appreciation for fine engineering — a Dyson hairdryer. Though at $399 this combination of fabulous hair and great design doesn’t come cheap.



6. A flash drive

Looking for something more in the stocking-stuffer price range? A bunch of the women we spoke to mentioned they’d be thrilled to receive a great flash drive this year. Wright is specifically eying the SanDisk – Cruzer 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive ($29.99), calling it “a useful, extremely practical gift.” Founders Marketing CEO Kristi E. DePaul wants an Omars lightning stick ($33.99) “for external phone storage/file transfer anywhere and everywhere.”

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7. STEM inspired games for kids

Got a technical woman on your gift giving list who is also a mom? Then Codeship product manager Kelly Bowker has a suggestion: how about a Bloxels kit to introduce their little one to video game design? (This might also be a good present for anyone who is still a kid at heart). And as Hackbright VP Angie Chang points out there’s also “Goldieblox, Roominate and Hopscotch – all women-led startups helping the next gen of girls become future coders.”

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8. Empowerment in book form

Want to encourage the technical woman you’re buying for and provide her with some additional skills to take on the world? Then there’s no shortage of great books specifically pitched at empowering female tech leaders, such as Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories edited by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack. The book mixes practical advice and inspiration from many leading women in tech. Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture by Elissa Shevinsky is another good option.

Chang also points to Go Against the Flow by Charu Sharma, calling it “really useful content for aspiring entrepreneurs.” Amazon describes the book this way:  “An innovative and ground-breaking new book” that “brings together wisdom from several established and up and coming women business leaders in sharing their candid and introspective insights on how to become a successful entrepreneur.”

What gift are you dreaming of receiving this holiday season? Let us know!

Hackbright Academy is the leading engineering school for women in San Francisco dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech industry offering 12-week software engineering programs and night courses for women.