These images perfectly capture what it's like to be a woman of color in the tech industry.

When I searched for "Women of color in tech" on a popular stock photo website, this is the first image that popped up.

Photo by iStock.


If you can get past the lens flare, you'll quickly notice these women are sketching, playing on their cellphones, and possibly painting their nails at a cafe. And from a cursory glance, they don't appear to be women of color.

But surely the next photo won't be something ridiculous like a woman holding hair extensions and offering a thumbs up...

Photo by iStock.

Internet, we have a problem.

Women and non-binary people of color are up against it in the tech industry.

Black women fill a mere 3% of computing jobs in the U.S.

Black people, male or female, make up just 1% of the tech employees at Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

And while women make up 12% of all computer science graduates, in 2006, just .03% of Latina freshmen sought degrees in the major.

While the number of women of color (WOC) in the tech community may be small, they are talented, powerful, and making moves at every level. From fearless founders of tech start-ups to crafty coders and information analysts, these individuals are changing the face of an industry long dominated by white men. But when you look around, they receive little to no representation, positive or otherwise.

Photo via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

That's why Stephanie Morillo and Christina Morillo founded #WOCInTechChat.

Stephanie, a copywriter at a cloud computing company, and Christina, an information security/identity access management architect for a financial company, live and work in New York City.

They started #WOCInTechChat as a hashtag for Twitter chats and conversation. It quickly developed into a resource for women and non-binary people of color to share knowledge, network, and connect with their peers in the industry.

Christina Morillo (left) and Stephanie Morillo. Photo via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

But as the co-founders put the group's website together, they had a difficult time finding stock photos that felt true to their experience.

"When building the wocintechchat.com site, I noticed that there were no stock images of women who looked like both Stephanie and I," Christina told Upworthy. "I have been in the industry for over 17 years and suffice to say that this really frustrated me, and I wanted us to do something about it. I guess you can say anger activates."

The fact that this group exists ... that's what we're most proud of.

Finding nothing that fit their needs, members of #WOCInTechChat decided to create their own stock photos.

Christina and Stephanie recruited their colleagues and fellow #WOCInTech members to participate in the project. They've completed three separate photo shoots.

"We had over 60 applicants sign up per shoot," Christina said.

Shot at Trello and Microsoft NYC, the images capture a true day-in-the-life of women and non-binary people of color in the booming tech industry.

There are women of color writing code.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

There are women of color leading meetings.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

There are women of color reading, researching, and working independently.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

And there are women of color brainstorming and working with their colleagues who — get this — ARE ALSO WOMEN OF COLOR.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

Photos from the first two photo shoots are free and available now.

The pictures are free to use under a Creative Commons Attribution License, so anyone is free to display, distribute, or use the images so long as #WOCInTechChat receives proper credit. A batch of photos from the third shoot will be added to the collection in late March.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

In addition to the photos, Stephanie and Christina continue to support and encourage other women of color in tech.

Less than a year after they founded the organization, Stephanie and Christina have truly made a name for themselves in the community. They developed a newsletter that features job listings from top companies looking for talent, covered the registration fees for women of color to attend six tech conferences, co-sponsored a workshop on data science, and spoke at the inaugural Women's Freedom Conference.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

But for Christina and Stephanie, there's much more to the work than accolades and engagements.

"The fact that this group exists and we were able to rely on each other to do this work, that's what we're most proud of," Stephanie said.

Representation matters.

It's important for everyone, but especially children and young adults of all backgrounds, to see women and non-binary people of color excelling in a variety of fields and disciplines. Finding real-world role models and examples of success in the community expands the limits of what's possible.

As the saying goes, "You can't be what you can't see, " and these images ensure children see the dynamic, challenging, collaborative field they can be a part of.

Image via #WOCInTech Chat/Flickr (cropped).

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Sometimes a politician says or does something so brazenly gross that you have to do a double take to make sure it really happened. Take, for instance, this tweet from Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Witzke defeated the party's endorsed candidate to win the primary, has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, supports the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside operation, and has called herself a flat earther.

So that's neat.

Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."

First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.

Next, let's see how Twitter thwapped Lauren Witzke straight into the 21st century by proving her wrong in the most delicious way. Not only did people share how they or their relatives and friends have successfully "assimilated," but many showed that they went way, way beyond that.

Keep Reading Show less
via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

Keep Reading Show less