Influential African Americans in STEM
This past weekend, we celebrated the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for racial inequality in the United States. It is because of his work, that I was inspired to write about other influential African Americans, however this time in STEM. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, African Americans only make up 9% of STEM workers. But who are these STEM workers and who are the most influential in history? Brought to you by idtech, here are four of the most influential African American leaders in STEM.
Alan Emtage worked as a systems administrator for the School of Computer Science at McGill University and created a program that would automate the process of finding software. He coined the program “Archie” and in 1990, his program was the world’s first search engine, or what Emtage calls the “great great grandfather of Google and all those other search engines.”
Kimberley Bryant worked for years as an electrical engineer before moving to Silicon Valley in the late 2000s. During her move, she noticed that minorities were underrepresented in the STEM start-up community and decided to act on the observation. In 2011 Bryant launched her new brand, Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls from underrepresented communities by introducing them to coding. Her organization is now regarded as one of the most influential in recruiting young girls into the field of STEM. You can visit Bryant’s website and learn more about Black Girls Code by clicking HERE.
Known as the “Bill Gates of Ghana”, Herman Chinery-Hesse is responsible for starting tech company theSOFTtribe in 1991. Despite only starting with one computer, Chinery-Hesse and theSOFTtribe quickly became one of the biggest tech companies in Ghana, offering a variety of software services such as payroll, airline bookings, management, and many more. Today, Herman Chinery-Hesse spends his time working on a project he calls “African Echoes” which is aimed at creating African audiobooks for global consumption. Chinery-Hesse once said “Technology is the only way for Africa to get rich. We don’t have proper infostructure and we can’t compete in manufacturing. But if you put me behind a PC and tell me to write software for a Chinese customer, then I can compete brain for brain with anyone trying to do the same in the US.”
Angela Benton is regarded as one of the most influential women in STEM, winning the Fast Company award for Most Influential Women in Technology in 2010. In 2007, Benton co-founded Black Web 2.0, now B20, to highlight the exceptional innovation and talent of American Americans in STEM. In 2011, Benton created NewMe, a platform that helps minority and women entrepreneurs create successful businesses. The online platform has helped raise more than twenty million in venture capital funding. To visit NewMe and learn more about Benton’s company, click HERE.