Why We Celebrate Black History Month at ChickTech
Black History Month is celebrated every February in the United States of America. Learn about what Black History Month celebrates, and why (and how) ChickTech is honoring the triumphs and struggles of Black Americans throughout US history. 👩🏾🏭 🧑🏽🔬 👩🏿💻
About Black History Month
The origin of Black History Month traces back to 1915, 50 years after the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in the United States. Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian known as “the father of Black history,” was the first to propose that a dedicated time should be designated to promote and educate people about Black history, achievements, and culture. After founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), Woodson sponsored the first Negro History Week during the second week of February in 1926. Not only was this event held to celebrate Black history, but also to solidify Black history as a serious area of study within academia. February was chosen to coincide with Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays. Lincoln was influential in the emancipation of slaves in the United States, while Douglass (a former slave himself) was a prominent leader in the movement to end slavery.
Since this first Black History event nearly 100 years ago, Black History Month has transformed into a month-long event honoring the contributions and sacrifices of Black Americans who have shaped the nation—and who have so often gone overlooked by history books. The movement grew even larger during the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. In 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first to officially recognize Black History Month—he called for all Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Why does Black History Month relate to ChickTech’s mission?
As an organization dedicated to empowering all women and non-binary people in tech, we believe it is critical to recognize the intersectional identities of BIPOC youth and adults.
In our programs, we strongly believe that our participants deserve to bring their whole selves to our community. Unfortunately, this is not the norm for many places of work within the tech industry and beyond. For instance, code-switching refers to the practice of alternating between two or more different behaviors, styles of speech, appearance, and expression in ways that will prioritize the comfort of others. This is often used as a survival tactic by Black people, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and others of other marginalized communities to fit into primarily white- and male-dominated work environments. In fact, A 2019 study from the Pew Research Center found that four in ten Black adults feel the need to code-switch when around people of different races.
In addition, it is known that Black women have been all too often erased from history books and go unrecognized for their contributions to STEM fields. We know that a key component of filling the pipeline of diverse future technologists includes introducing mentors and leaders in the field that help girls and non-binary youth see themselves in tech. Spotlighting Black women throughout history who have contributed to STEM fields and attending events or workshops led by Black technologists can show young Black girls and non-binary students that they belong in this industry—and that there are others who have made it, too!
We also know that Black women are further underrepresented in technology careers. While women make up 26% of computing careers, just 3% are held by Black women specifically. And unfortunately, reports from the biggest tech companies who report diversity statistics show that little has changed in the last several years, even though many large tech companies have publicly stated goals relating to hiring more diverse employees.
For these reasons—among many others—ChickTech leadership believes that acknowledging and participating in Black History Month is directly related to our work advancing gender equity in tech. And we’re dedicated to continuing this growth and work after February’s Black History Month has concluded.
How is ChickTech participating in Black History Month?
ChickTech is acknowledging and celebrating Black History Month in a variety of ways! We encourage you to join our social media channels online to engage with our content, and attend one of our upcoming events featuring Black stories in tech.
- On social media, we’re honoring the accomplishments and highlighting the triumphs and struggles of Black women in STEM. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to learn more about these amazing women. We’ll also be highlighting other organizations serving the Black community!
- Staff members are encouraged to engage in intentional discussions, learning, and volunteerism related to Black History Month. Our “Growth Holiday” policy allows for employees to take time away from their work to participate in this month-long celebration of Black history.
- ChickTech: High School students are invited to attend our upcoming Black Women in Tech webinar, presented by CDK Global. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions of panelists and learn about their career paths, intersectional identities, accomplishments, and more.
Lastly, we believe that February should not signal the end of highlighting Black history, engaging in anti-racism, or learning about the triumphs and struggles of Black Americans. ChickTech is dedicated to spotlighting Black technologists throughout the year and will continue to engage with diversity, equity & inclusion practices as it relates to racial justice and beyond.
Have a suggestion for how we can continue to highlight Black history, or make our organization more inclusive and equitable for our Black community members? We welcome your feedback—contact us here.