Georgia State University Launches Program to Support Black Women in Tech

Two professors from Georgia State University, Anu Bourgeois and Nannette Napier, have established a new program that supports Black women students interested in computing and technical fields. The initiative was funded through a $500,000 grant from the Reboot Representation in Tech Coalition, a partnership of tech companies aimed at increasing Black, Latina, and Native American women representation in the field.

While Black women account for roughly 29 percent of the Georgia State University undergradaute student body, they represent only 10 percent of the university’s computer science majors and 18 percent of the computer information systems majors. The “Reaching for Inclusion – Striving for Excellence (RISE) in Computing” program was created to increase the representation of Black women students graduating from Georgia State University with a technical field degree and prepare them for successful careers post-graduation.

“This started off as listening to our students, talking to our students, seeing what they wanted and what they were feeling. We realized that they feel like they don’t belong in their classes,” said Dr. Bourgeois. “They have imposter syndrome and extra stresses and burdens in their lives that aren’t necessarily there for many of the other women in the field.”

So far, the RISE in Computing initiative has admitted nearly 100 Black women junior and senior undergraduate students. The program provides its students with professional development and technical workshops, as well as tutoring and mentoring tailored to each student’s career interests. As the program expands, Dr. Bourgeois and Dr. Napier hope to connect with the many tech companies stationed in Atlanta and create an employment pipeline for their Black women graduates.

“We have this large population of Black women in our major, and if we could place them in the field, it would really make an impact nationally,” Dr. Bourgeois said.

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