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Tennis superstar Serena Williams recently announced an investment in the Brilliant Black Minds program by Karat, an interviewing company focused on connecting companies and with candidates, to help diversify the tech world.
Through the partnership, Williams’ will be supporting the program’s goal of doubling the rates of Black engineers in the tech industry by helping current and future Black software engineers with the interviewing process. In the next decade, Karat’s focus is on getting more than 100,000 Black engineers jobs in the tech world through the Brilliant Black Minds program in part by offering free practice interviews.
With her investment and her new role as Karat’s “Champion of Brilliance,” Williams’ will help fund the advancement and expansion of the program alongside leaders such as the interview equity advisor, Katherine Picho-Kiroga, and Senior Project Manager Asthan Jordan.
“There has never been a shortage of brilliance in Black America; only limits to the access and opportunities extended to our community,” said Williams in a statement from the news release. “That is why I am proud to team up with companies like Karat who are taking actionable steps to bring more diversity and equity to the industry, as well as call on others to be part of the change.”
Launched in 2021, the Brilliant Black Minds program was created to address and close the interview access gap in the tech industry. Referring to the inability of Black Americans to enter the tech world, the interview access gap is caused by multiple disparities, including a lack of opportunities to network as a result of being underrepresented.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black software engineers make up only 5.4% of the software developing workforce while 54.7% of white software engineers make up the majority.
This lack of representation makes it harder for upcoming Black software engineers to connect with prospective employers, according to a report by Karat and Howard University. In a survey involving more than 300 of their students, Karat and Howard University found that 83% of the software students interviewed said they didn’t know more than five people involved in tech startups. Meanwhile, 43% of the participants said they didn’t know anyone in the business at all.
Inequities in education also build barriers for Black students to enter the tech world. While a national Gallup student reported that Black students have more of an interest in tech classes like computer sciences, only 75% of Black students are enrolled in U.S. schools with basic computer science classes, according to a report by the Kapoor Center and the NAACP.
Black students have even less access to AP computer science to help them prepare for a career in tech. According to the same report, only 3.5% of all the students in the AP Computer Science A classes nationwide are Black.
“We recognize that every generation has benefitted from the ingenuity of Black brilliance,” said Karat in a statement on their website. “Ensuring that Black engineers have a place in tech is a necessity.”