7 experts who are taking over tech and challenging racism and sexism in the field.

When James Damore sent his inaccurate and problematic memo on diversity in the workplace, the internet, tech experts, and the general world responded with justified frustration.

Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images


The former Google software engineer wrote a 10-page anti-diversity memo in which he claimed the gender gap in tech is due to biological differences between men and women, rather than discrimination. And, while Damore did not directly ascribe to a political party, he compared being conservative today to being gay in the 1950s.

Damore's comments echoed what staffers of color and women in a variety of STEM-focused careers have heard repeatedly in predominantly white offices and schools: They don't belong here.

Still, they continue to prove naysayers wrong through their hard work, dedication, and brilliance.

Simply look at a tech conference, the launch of a millennial-focused website, or a new startup initiative to find women and people of color changing the face of tech in innovative and influential ways — in spite of working with and often being educated by people like Damore.

Here are seven badass people of color changing the game for minority groups in tech.

1. Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands, Inc. and CODE2040

Tristan Walker speaks at TechCrunch. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch.

Walker & Company Brands, Inc., is a grooming products company for African-Americans, and CODE2040 is an organization dedicated to providing tech pathways in the innovation economy for black and Latinx people. Through these ventures, Walker has used his business and tech savviness to create businesses and organizations by and for people of color.  

Walker often speaks at conferences to discuss the importance of teaching tech in schools and communities of color, and he advocates for increasing the number of women and people of color in tech.  

2. Ruzwana Bashir, founder and CEO of Peek.com

After graduating from Oxford and Harvard Business School, Ruzwana Bashir worked in investment banking before creating Peek, an online platform for vacation planning. The U.K. native of Pakistani descent has had profound influence in the tech industry, and she's used her voice to speak out against sexual assault and abuse.

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

3. Khalia Braswell, UI/UX designer at Apple and founder of INTechCamp

According to a report from National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), black women only hold 3% of computing jobs. Khalia Braswell is one of the many faces in the competitive STEM field working to change this. The Apple UX designer founded INTech Camp in 2014, aiming to expose more girls of color to technology and to increase gender and racial representation in tech in future years.  

"Being future ready means building relationships, remaining positive, and giving back to those that helped you along the way," Braswell said in a speech for NAF (formerly the National Academy Foundation). Braswell maintains an active social media presence and continues to work with young girls in her nonprofit.

4. Elaine Warren, founder of SurvivorPlan

The innovative technology veteran has worked with business and health care clients, such as Emory University and Veterans Health Administration, for 20 years to provide software solutions for their initiatives.

"I loved the creativity along with the structure, and I realized that software development was both a science and an art form," Warren told Redox. "I went on to study computer science in college and was hooked."  

Warren earned her master's degree in computer science and is now the leader of Survivor Plan, a company that works to provide personalized solutions for cancer survivors, their clinicians, and their loved ones.

5. Evelyn Miralles, principal engineer and virtual reality innovator at NASA

Miralles is known as a a pioneer of virtual reality at NASA. Her career, spanning 25 years, has influenced women around the world. She is one of many Latina women who have paved the way for more opportunities for women and people of color in science and technology.  

Miralles was on the BBC World 100 Women list, CNET's Top 20 Latinos in Technology list, and is a distinguished alumna of University of Houston Clear Lake.    

6. Clennita Justice, senior engineering program manager at Google

Clennita Justice, a former Apple employee, has worked on a variety of projects at Google, including assisting with launching Google Play Books (formerly Google Books).

“I’m always doing something around my own personal development, and I’ve always thought of technology as a means for helping us be better people and have better lives, enjoy our lives, and increase our self-awareness,” Justice told Google Careers.  

Justice now works in product strategy to manage an in-product tool designed to complete surveys to asses user satisfaction. She is also a member of Black Googles Network (BGN), an organization that serves as a resources for Black "Googlers" and allies.

7. Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity

Morgan DeBaun at TechCrunch. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch.

Morgan DeBaun is the co-founder and CEO of Blavity, a website dedicated to black millennials. The Forbes 30 Under 30 alumna saw a need for a content space created by black people, so she left her job and used her tech skills and business knowledge to create a website that constantly produces viral, relevant content for her audience.

She has also worked to create spaces for black people and women in tech, including AfroTech, the largest black tech conference in Silicon Valley.    

These seven are just a handful of examples of the numerous men and women of color innovating and changing the future of technology. It's imperative we continue creating opportunities for diversity in our elite school systems and the workplace.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."