Diversity is a hot topic in the tech industry.
And writers really do love to talk about it. It’s been something they’ve posted and published about for years. I mean, this blog has only been around for a few months and even I have touched on tech’s lack of diversity in just about every IT management post.
Even while writing the Big Hero 6 IT team guide, I was a little embarrassed that a children’s movie so effortlessly managed to capture diversity within the tech community. Why can’t we, as adults, even with all the aforementioned opinion writing and analysis, do better?
Take Google, for instance. Many tech companies aspire to be like Google and thousands would love to work at such an innovative company. But their diversity numbers are dismal. Women now make up just 30% of the company overall and Asian employees rose to 31%, but the stats for African American and Latino employees remained stagnant at a sad 2% and 3%, respectively. Numbers for women of color, who occupy both identities, weren’t listed.
But for many in the tech industry, diversity isn’t a trending topic or a scathing research report. It’s real life.
So what to do when you can’t find solace in the company you work for? How can you find others who share your experience in IT management or the tech community?
Below, I’ve compiled a list of eleven associations and organizations specifically for IT professionals of color so that you can find solidarity and community within the tech industry.
For those involved in green technology, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) enables you to connect with more than 1,600 members at monthly chapter meetings as well as explore new opportunities within this booming sector of technology. This association was founded “to ensure the input of African Americans and other minorities into the discussions and developments of energy policies regulations, R&D technologies, and environmental issues.”
Aside from being able to connect and network within the organization, members can also attend AABE’s annual conference. The April 2016 event will take place in Chicago, and includes sessions concerning the use of shale, creating a diverse workforce, and a youth energy forum for younger attendees. AABE also runs the AABE Institute, which provides training, technical assistance, market information, as well as supplier and partnership opportunities with the goal of supporting and catalyzing energy sector development in Africa and the Diaspora. Students who join are also privy to AABE’s local scholarship programs, ranging from Atlanta to Cincinnati.
Cost depends on a variety of factors, including if you choose to also sign up for a local chapter ($0-$170) or if you’re looking to browse through their exclusive database ($150). New membership to the national organization costs $100. Returning members must pay a sustaining fee of $200.
AISES was founded in 1977 to further the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples of North America in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and careers. Now, there are more than 3,800 members of 189 chartered college and university chapters, 15 professional chapters, and 158 affiliated K-12 schools.
AISES operates three different programs (pre-college, college, and professional) to ensure both students and professionals are given exposure to first-rate (STEM) programs and events. The organization’s professional programs include opportunities to mentor others in the field, search through a membership-only job board, a leadership summit, and a national conference that touches upon the intersection of both STEM and indigenous tradition. Scholarships and summer internships are also available for students interested in furthering their professional goals.
Annual membership fees range from $5 to $40 depending on if you’re a student, professional or retiree. Lifetime membership costs $1,000.
Created in 2004, AAa/e is “is committed to providing a platform for empowering professionals working in the built environment in personal and professional growth, business development and networking, and leadership in our community.”
In addition to networking opportunities with other Asian-American professionals, AAa/e membership includes access to a variety of events, such as their exclusive awards banquet, fundraisers for their scholarship program for high school, undergrad, and graduate students. Scholarship opportunities also include a student loan support grant for those paying off outstanding college debt. Some events concentrate on topical interests that range from female leadership in the technology industry to panels on Southern California’s water supply.
Some membership levels are exclusive to job position and title, and range between $8 to $75. Bundle memberships range between $325 and $375, depending on which package you choose. Corporate Membership costs $1,500.
One of the more prominent tech organizations in the black community, the Black Data Processing Associates “has become a critical pipeline of diverse talent for employers” since its founding in 1975. The organization boasts more than 40 local chapters nationwide and trains between 800 to 1,200 high school students across the nation in computer programming and web development each year.
In addition to benefits like exclusive online courses as well as professional workshops, BDPA also has career fairs and networking opportunities with Fortune 500 companies, who actively participate in the organization. BDPA also nurtures IT entrepreneurs, who may be looking for potential business partners, investors, and employees. Excelsior College is a partner with the organization and offers discounts to members. BDPA also offers a trove of opportunities for high school and college students, including a mobile app showcase and youth technology camp, as well as a wealth of scholarship opportunities.
Professional members pay an annual due of $100, but can pay $400 for a five-year membership. Lifetime membership costs $1,000. Students, both high school and college, can join for just $25 per year.
This volunteer-based, nonprofit organization in Silicon Valley is dedicated to promoting leadership, community, and entrepreneurship in technology. CSPA was founded in 1988 and now has more than 5,000 members.
Because of CSPA is a volunteer-based organization, this organization’s benefits are a multitude of events throughout the year, including presentations by industry leaders, panel discussions on hot topics in tech, as well as funding and entrepreneurship. CSPA recently launched their @Venture series, which “focuses on helping entrepreneurs building successful business.” Networking mixers are also a key perk in this organization, especially considering its home-base in Silicon Valley.
Since this is a volunteer-based nonprofit, membership is free. You can sign up to receive CSPA’s emails through their home-site.
Advancing the Hispanic role in information technology leadership, this worldwide executive organization includes members of Global 1000 companies and leaders of some of the largest Hispanic-owned IT firms in the United States.
Benefits of membership at HITEC include access to members-only content, such as their membership directory and career opportunities resources, in addition to waived registration fees for quarterly HITEC Executive Summits and the ability to participate in HITEC’s Executive Development Program, which offers nine months of mentoring to HITEC’s rising stars. HITEC also runs an Emerging Executives Program that provides guidance on career-related issues unique to Hispanics in leadership.
Annual dues for members working in corporations is $1,500. For members working in nonprofits and government agencies, the yearly membership is $500. Membership is only open to senior-level executive IT professionals, partners or executives at major IT consulting firms, and chairmen of a technology/systems department at a college or university.
LISTA’s “mission is to empower Latino technological and scientific engagement, broaden awareness of the impact Latinos are currently having on these sectors, and concurrently representing their overall interest within the digital information age.” Currently, LISTA has 12 chapters nationwide with more than 5,000 members.
LISTA membership includes a variety of programs, professional development, and networking opportunities. Specifically, members have access to workshops to help develop their speaking and presentation skills, invitations to career expos, and StackHub Training on advanced technologies. Programs range from La Familia Tech Week, which promotes computer literacy for Hispanic families, and the TechLatino Speakers Series that promote leadership development and technical education.
Costs for LISTA membership is not listed on their site, however, they do note that some “firms have expense policies that reimburse their employees for the membership fees paid to participate in professional associations like LISTA.” To become a member, you must also apply for membership and be approved by the Board.
MAES was founded in Los Angeles in 1974 with the aim to “increase the number of Mexican Americans and other Hispanics in the technical and scientific fields.”
Benefits of MAES membership include a variety of events you can attend, such as the MAES Symposium, which brings together both students and professionals for a collection of workshops and events. These events include a career and graduate school fair, a networking breakfast, a professional training series, and the chance for students to interview for internships and full-time positions right then and there. Recruiters can also scout top talent, become a college decathlon mentor, and support the organization by volunteering to help mentor students in the STEM field.
Students pay up to $10 for annual membership, though have access to free membership at the associate level. Professionals are also eligible for free membership at the associate level, though can pay a $35 annual fee or $1,000 for lifetime membership.
The National Society of Black Engineers is by far one of the biggest organizations for black IT professionals, with more than 394 active chapters nationwide, including 242 collegiate, 70 professional, and 82 pre-collegiate chapters. Since its inception in 1971, this acclaimed organization has amassed 30,000 members around the world.
Because of its size, NSBE truly offers a wealth of resource for black engineers. For professionals, you have access to leadership development and training (including panels with leaders from Fortune 500 companies), as well as KAPLAN test preparation workshops for those looking to further their education. You can additionally post your resume and search through job opportunities in NSBE’s database, apply to members-only fellowships and scholarships, and give back to your community through various outreach initiatives.
Membership cost depends on education level for students (grades 6-12 pay $5/year, collegiates pay $15/year), but professionals can pay just $50 per year, with lifetime memberships topping out at $1,200 and international rates varying.
SACNAS was founded in 1973 by a group of minority scientists with the mission of increasing the number of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in graduate science programs, scientific research, teaching careers, and leadership, as well as increasing governmental commitment to advancing these communities in scientific fields.
In addition to accessing its career database, SACNAS members can also explore the organization’s professional library, which includes members’ thoughts on the intersections of diversity and tech, insight into the evolving scientific community, and profiles on prominent SACNAS members. The organization also offers year-round programs to stay active and involved in the community, such as their leadership program that provides advanced training to develop critical leadership skills.
SACNAS prides itself on its ability to give back, accumulating over 20,000 community service hours every year by “mentoring students on their research abstracts, helping members connect with scholarly opportunities, serving as chapter advisors, organizing regional meetings, advising the organization via committees, and writing for SACNAS publications.”
Membership cost ranges based on how many years you decide to be a member as well as if you’re a student, professional, or choose to become a lifetime member. Student cost ranges between $15 to $30, with professionals ranging between $65 and $135. Lifetime membership costs between $500 to $1,000.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1974, SHPE began with the mission of “empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development.” Currently, the organization has 250 chapters with more than 10,000 members nationwide.
Key benefits of membership include access to more than $2 million in scholarship offerings, tips on resume writing and interview skills, and professional training through conferences like their Management Growth Training conference, Graduate Leadership Institute, and National Institute for Leadership Advancement. Graduate school applicants can also take advantage of SHPE’s GRE/GRAD lab to help members navigate the application process.
Undergraduate dues are only $10, with recent graduates receiving complimentary membership. Professionals can pay between $55 to $65 for either associate or regular membership. Lifetime membership ranges between $800 for associate and $1,000 for regular levels.
I was a little disappointed not to find any active IT organizations or associations for women of color specifically, considering how difficult it is to navigate the tech industry both as a woman and as a minority. If you do find one (or any others) that promote diversity in tech, let me know in the comments below.
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