A Fierce Four

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A Fierce Four

As we continue to celebrate the remarkable contributions and achievements of African Americans in shaping our nation’s history (and with Women’s History Month coming right on the heels of Black History Month), we are paying homage to four women-in-tech trailblazers selected by our staff. All of these women have multiple accolades, are accomplished beyond words, and walk through closed doors—then they turn right around and fight to leave them open for the rest of us. They are models of unflinching resolve and unyielding perseverance.

1–Erica Baker
Advocate. Mentor. Speaker. Philanthropist. Powerhouse.
Selected by Alex Robinson, Director of Back-End Engineering

"I was so inspired early in my career by how candidly she shared her experience and could articulate what it felt like to be marginalized in a mostly white, male-dominated field. I also admire the work she did within google to bring to light the pay disparities for women and people of color.”

Currently Chief Technology Officer at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Erica Baker has worked for companies like GitHub, Google, Slack, Patreon and Microsoft. She’s a founding member of Project Include and a tech mentor for Black Girls Code—roles where her leverage and experience are yielding big opportunities for the next generation of tech leaders. Erica is on the Board of Directors for Girl Develop It and the advisory Board for Hack the Hood. She also made the list of the BBC's 100 Women announced in November 2020.

2–Angie Jones
Inventor. Writer. Speaker. Teacher. Champion.
Also selected by Alex Robinson, Director of Back-End Engineering

“Angie Jones is another woman who inspires me because she is so dynamic and excellent in all that she does. And I also love her little animated version of herself.”

Currently the Global Vice President of Developer Relations for Block’s decentralized finance division, TBD54566975, Angie Jones specializes in test automation strategies and techniques. She speaks and teaches at global software conferences, posts tutorials and technical articles on angiejones.tech, and leads the online learning platform, Test Automation University. Angie has more than 25 patented inventions in the U.S. and China in the areas of metaverses, collaboration software, social networking, smarter planet, and software development processes. She also volunteers with Black Girls Code, teaching coding workshops to young girls in the hopes of attracting more women and minorities to tech.

3–Angelica Ross
Veteran. Actress. Entrepreneur. Advocate. Superstar.
Selected by Darren Smith, Financial Services Manager

“I'm terribly inspired by people who, in spite of the entire world telling them no, carve out a path for themselves. Not only is she breaking through in white, male-dominated Hollywood, but she also took the time to bet on herself, teach herself coding, and do everything she can to bring people like her along for the journey. She's showing us that society may try and hold you back, but taking up the space that belongs to you is fundamental to success.”

As the founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a program that empowers trans and gender nonconforming people through a co-working and co-learning community with a focus on leadership and workplace skills, Angelica Ross is a leading figure in the movement for trans and racial equality. She travels nationally and abroad, speaking her powerful mission into action with business leaders, educators and politicians and advocating for the organizational change that creates space for the rich experiences of trans people and people of color to speak, share their value, and create lasting success. She is also the founder of the TransTech Summit and president of Miss Ross, Inc.

4–Timnit Gebru
Advocate. Scientist. Researcher. Entrepreneur. Pioneer.
Selected by Tanner Welsh, Software Engineer

“I find her inspiring in a couple of ways, primarily that she is actively working to study and address the ways that AI can be harmful, especially to BIPOC folks. Since AI is usually treated with a lot of optimistic hype, I appreciate her willingness to go against the grain and think critically about the unintended (or even intended) consequences of AI’s increasing ubiquity in our society. Secondly, that she stood up to Google and called them out on their dubious reasons for firing her. It takes some real guts to put your career on the line like that, and I think her example is especially important for workers’ rights in demanding equitable treatment from big tech companies.”

As the founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR), Timnit Gebru has created a “space for independent, community-rooted AI research free from Big Tech’s pervasive influence.” Timnit’s work explores algorithmic bias and the ethical implications of data mining projects. She seeks both to increase diversity in the field of AI and to reduce the negative impacts of racial bias in training data used for human-centric machine learning models. Timnit also co-founded Black in AI, a nonprofit that works to increase the presence, inclusion, visibility and health of Black people in the field of AI, and is on the board of AddisCoder, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching algorithms and computer programming to Ethiopian high school students.

In founding DAIR, Timnit joins a wave of Black female researchers who have founded their own independent institutes dedicated to pioneering more ethical and accountability-driven applications of AI systems, including Yeshimabeit Milner, founder of Data for Black Lives; Ruha Benjamin, founder of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab at Princeton University; and Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League.

Are you as inspired as we are by these women? Do you want to use technology to make a real difference?

Check out an upcoming Try Coding Workshop.