coding denitria lewis digitalundivided Interviews project diane rewrite the code tech technology
Denitria Lewis Talks Changing the Tech Landscape by Creating Community for Black Women6/13/2015
The intersection of race and gender in tech has become increasingly important in an age of rapid t...
The intersection of race and gender in tech has become increasingly important in an age of rapid technological growth. digitalundivided (DID) works to "disrupt pattern-matching in tech by identifying, training and supporting high performing diverse founders of tech enabled companies." I was very thrilled to ask one of DID's tech enthusiasts, Denitria Lewis, questions about the importance of Black women in tech.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For Harriet: Can you explain what you do?
Denitria Lewis: I am the community manager for digitalundivided. I run point on all the the social media campaigns, and stay up to date on the happenings in the tech space to see how they might be complimentary or newsworthy to our company’s core objectives. Currently we are focused on getting 500 backers for our kickstarter campaign - #RewriteTheCode, a documentary exploring the intersection of race and gender in tech.
FH: Why is it so important for Black women to pursue tech?
DL: Black women, statistically speaking, are often times the financial lifeblood for their families. “Holding the purse strings” is not just a turn of phrase for our community. That is not to say that the earning power of Black men doesn’t matter, it does, but Black women more often than not set the tone for achievement and financial growth in our communities. When you look at the tech landscape, that environment is built on abundance. Investors are banking big money on the success of young white men from MIT. Black women, and Black people in general, are game changers and innovators. Companies and investors miss out on a lot by not backing us, or supporting our efforts.
FH: What do you like the most about working in the tech field?
DL: For all the things that may be constant - absolutely no day is the same. We are constantly engaging our community, meeting new people, analyzing data, and working towards disrupting pattern-matching in tech. It’s also a great bonus for me to hear about new products and platforms as they are happening. It’s very inspiring, and makes me excited about the possibilities for our community.
FH: When did you become interested in tech?
DL: I have always been “into computers,” as my family would say. I started off being digitally inclined at a young age; back when computers HAD to be programmed in order for you to even use them. I mean, how many kids remember what using a computer was like before visual basic? I remember coding in C+ just to get my computer to say “Hello, My name is Denitria.” Working in marketing and media ultimately led me back to tech, because clients want you to be able to understand the technology that their audience is consuming.
FH: What do you want to tell Black women that may be discouraged by discrimination in the tech field?
DL: There will always be doubters, naysayers, and the proverbial “haters.” You honestly cannot be the least bit worried about what they think of you, or your idea. Focus your energy on developing your best product, and on those people who are willing to help you grow your company to the next level and building a viable business.
FH: How do you see diversity in tech progressing in the future?
DL: digitalundivided is focused on finding and developing some of the best tech talent that our community has to offer. We are focused on cracking, or I should say “rewriting” the code - in order to really disrupt the status quo of the startup industry.
FH: Why is it important for you to work with other Black women in tech?
DL: Our mission is to find, train, and support Black women in tech. By highlighting real successes and opportunities in urban tech entrepreneurship, the tech community can do away with their preconceived notions regarding women and minority entrepreneurs, as well as find ways to connect and tap this potential-filled pool of talents.
Joneka Percentie is a rising junior studying Mass Media Communications, Africana Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC Charlotte. When she’s not working with SPARK Movement, or tweeting @jpercentie, she enjoys singing, dancing, and sleeping. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org