For too long, tech leaders have claimed that the lack of women of color in the field is a pipeline problem, that there have simply been too few candidates to consider. The reality is more nuanced, with women of color historically having fewer opportunities in school, at work, and when networking.
Enter Philadelphian Jumoke Dada, founder of Tech Women Network. The New York transplant moved to Philly to attend Temple, then stayed here after getting a job right out of college. Now a tech and strategy consultant, she created Tech Women Network in 2017 as a means of creating a platform for women in tech—particularly women of color—to find and support one another. And on Friday, Tech Women Network will host its second annual Hue: A Tech Summit for Women of Color at University City Science Center.
The Summit kicks off Philly Tech Week, the annual series of events and networking opportunities for local technologists. As one of the biggest local tech events of the year, Dada wanted to make sure it offered opportunities for the diverse women in tech. And rather than host it in a startup hotbed like New York or Silicon Valley, Dada was determined to keep it here. “[Philly is] an untapped market,” she says. “There are a ton of people here and a bunch of great schools.”
Hue’s central aim will be empowering “women [with] the skills to thrive in tech, whether at a new job or learning a new technology,” like artificial intelligence.
Many women fall into a trap, Dada says, of working for years as project managers and then hitting a wall, never advancing to management. These women, she maintains, need to find a new way to work in tech and build new relationships—both of which they can do at Hue.
Already 300 people have signed up for the day, which will include 12 sessions and 27 speakers.
Lisa Gelobter, CEO and founder of tEQuitable, and Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, will be keynote speakers.
Dada finds it encouraging that big-time sponsors like Google, J.P. Morgan and Verizon are supporting the conference, but hopes companies go even deeper, and implement policies that help women of color in the workplace, from recruiting to hiring and promoting.
“Spotlight them, show off the work they are doing. It’s not done enough, which is why the mantra [at the summit] is ‘no more hidden figures,’” Dada says. “I want to see them getting awards and representing the company at conferences. I want [young people] to see other women who are just like them, and know they are not alone.”
In addition to speakers, panels, and workshops, there will be hand massages, makeup artists, opportunities for headshots, and swag bags. Most significantly, there will be job recruiters on hand to help make the meaningful, much-needed steps to start filling the pipeline, and the boardrooms.
2019 HUE Tech Summit, Friday, May 3, 8:30 am-4 pm, Registration Required, Quorum, 3675 Market St., 2nd Fl.Photo via HUE Tech Summit Facebook