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Event Detail

Black Women Disrupting the Status Quo in Technology

Monday, March 15, 2021 | 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

  • MozFest

There is a diversity crisis in the tech industry: a homogenous group of technologists is building solutions for our diverse population. This lack of diversity results in biased technology products that, at best, don’t serve everyone and, at worst, actively harm historically marginalized groups.

In this event, a panel of distinguished Black women will discuss the intersectional oppression prevalent in the technology industry and how the voices and work of Black women are imperative in moving us in a more ethical and inclusive direction.

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This event is part of an ongoing lecture series "The Future is Intersectional: Black Women Interrogating Technology," organized by the Spelman College Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, in collaboration with the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative, UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry and Mozilla.


Aerica Shimizu BanksAerica Shimizu Banks
Founder, Shiso

Aerica Shimizu Banks is a tech policy expert and inclusion innovator. She is the founder of Shiso, a consultancy that applies an intersectional equity lens to solve the most pressing challenges in tech, policy and business. She was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur and a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine.

Banks served on President-elect Biden's innovation policy committee; founded Pinterest's DC office and led federal affairs; led diversity and equity initiatives on Google's legal team and served as the Black small business liaison for the DC area; co-founded BEACON: The DC Women Founders Initiative; was a political appointee in the Obama Administration; and advanced environmental justice policies in Washington state. She holds a M.S. in environmental policy from Oxford University and a B.A. in environmental studies and public affairs from Seattle University.


Meredith BroussardMeredith Broussard
Associate Professor, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute
New York University

Meredith Broussard is an associate professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University and the author of the award-winning book ArtificialUnintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence in investigative reporting, with a particular interest in using data analysis for social good. Broussard is an affiliate faculty member at the Moore Sloan Data Science Environment at the NYU Center for Data Science, a 2019 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, and her work has been supported by the Institute of Museum & Library Services as well as the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School.

A former features editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Broussard has also worked as a software developer at AT&T Bell Labs and the MIT Media Lab. Her features and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Vox and other outlets.


Erika HairstonErika Hairston
Co-Founder and CEO, Edlyft

Erika Hairston is the co-founder and CEO of Edlyft, a paid support platform that helps college students and adult learners through CS courses by pairing them with inclusive mentors, online group tutoring and personalized study tools. Prior to Edlyft, she interned as a software engineer at Facebook and then became a product manager at LinkedIn Learning.

While studying CS & African American Studies at Yale, Hairston taught herself iOS while developing her first startup Zimela, an app connecting women and minorities to career resources. Zimela has now connected over 10k people to curated events, fellowships and communities. Today, Hairston sees a broken system in STEM higher education support. She made it through that broken system herself by designing systems for her own use that worked. Now she and her co-founder, Arnelle Ansong, have packaged it to make in-demand fields more achievable.


Lolade SiyonbolaLolade Siyonbola
Founder, NOIR Labs

Lolade Siyonbola is the founder of NOIR Labs, a social enterprise using art, technology and community building to inspire and operationalize Black Liberation worldwide. NOIR Labs produces the data-driven virtual film festival, NOIR FEST, which features the finest aspirational Black films from across the globe; and noirpress, the only media platform crafting a Liberated Black future through aspirational storytelling. These offerings will be housed in Portal X (currently in development), an AI-powered, gamified social network designed to intimately cultivate community around authentic passions, group goal setting and global virtual events.

Siyonbola completed her computer science degree at the University of Missouri, her Masters in African studies at Yale and is completing her Ph.D. in sociology at Cambridge University, where she studies worldmaking through cultural & digital production. Between her time at Mizzou and starting at Yale, Siyonbola held roles in the New York tech ecosystem as a network engineer, a web developer and finally a Scrum master serving clients like CUNY, FedEx and Verizon. She is extremely passionate about using humanist, futuristic technology to liberate millions from within.

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