Kimberly Bryant is an African American electrical engineer who worked in the biotechnology field at Genentech, Novartis Vaccines, Diagnostics, and Merck. In 2011, Bryant founded Black Girls Code, a training course that teaches basic programming concepts to black girls who are underrepresented in technology careers. After founding Black Girls Code, Bryant has been listed as one of the "25 Most Influential African-Americans In Technology" by Business Insider.
Early life and education
Bryant focused her studies at Vanderbilt on high-voltage electronics, and early in her career, she was hired at jobs at Westinghouse Electric and DuPont. Later, Bryant would move from electrical companies to biotechnology and later to pharmaceutical companies, where she worked at Pfizer, Merck, and at Genentech and Novartis.
Bryant founded Black Girls Code after her daughter expressed an interest in learning computer programming, and none of the available courses in the Bay area were well-suited for her: mostly boys, and rarely had other African American girls attending. Having experienced isolation herself during her time studying and working, she wanted a better environment for her daughter. Bryant hopes that this endeavor will allow young girls, especially those from minorities, to remain involved in STEM and increase awareness within the field. African-American women make up less than 3% of the workforce in the tech industry and Black Girls Code fights to change and improve this percentage for the better.
Black Girls Code teaches computer programming to school-age girls in after-school and summer programs. The San Francisco-based nonprofit organization has a goal of teaching one million black girls to code by 2040. The organization already has trained 3,000 girls in seven chapters in cities in the United States, and has one chapter in Johannesburg, South Africa, with plans to add chapters in eight more cities.
In August 2017 Bryant was involved with turning down a $125,000 donation by Uber which she considered "disingenuous". The donation followed allegations of sexual harassment at Uber. Bryant also noted in her refusal, that Girls Who Code was offered ten times the amount that was offered to Black Girls Code. In February 2018 Black Girls Code partnered with Uber's competitor Lyft - as Bryant considered their values to be better aligned with her own.
In 2013, Bryant was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion. That same year, she was voted one of the 25 Most Influential African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider. Bryant was also awarded the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship.
In 2014, Bryant was the recipient of Smithsonian Magazine's American Ingenuity Award for Social Progress.