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).

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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