When it comes to increasing the representation of Black women in STEM, there is more work that needs to be done. According to a study released by Catalyst Inc., women of color made up slightly less than 10% of working scientists and engineers in the United States in 2015. Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating career pathways for young women of color in the tech industry, is looking to change that narrative. One of the organization’s latest projects is the creation of a technology exploration lab in New York City.
The lab will live inside of Google’s New York office. The construction of the 3,900-square-foot lab began in June and it’s slated to open its doors in the fall. It’s being created by Kurani which is an architectural design studio that conceptualizes and builds innovative learning spaces. “We designed the lab for kids to see how technology works inside. What’s inside a smartphone, how does a circuit board use copper, are there similarities between cameras and computers,” says Kurani founder Danish Kurani. “The design takes us back to breaking things open and exploring how they’re made. When you remove the mysterious shell, the girls can see that tech is just parts and pieces, hardware and software they can tinker with and design themselves.”
The space will feature interactive gaming products tied to virtual reality and will host hack-a-thons, tech panels and workshops, and other events. There will also be a “Play Pen” lab where everyday objects like toasters, radios, and bluetooth headphones will be cracked open so the girls can explore the internal hardware that makes the items work.
Black Girls CODE founder Kimberly Bryant says that the partnership between her organization and Kurani is a major step towards empowering tomorrow’s tech leaders. “The renovation of our space in the Google building in New York into this design lab is just a first step in our much larger vision to create a series of innovative design labs in several of the communities where we have BGC chapters,” said Bryant in a statement. “It’s been a pleasure to work with the team at Kurani to bring our first design lab to life and to create a space which centers our tech divas as tech innovators and allows them to tap into their inner Shuris to build the technology which will shape all of our future tomorrows.”