Homewood forum explores role of black community in Pittsburgh tech sector – Pittsburgh Post

Kelauni Cook had been to one too many tech events where she was the only black female in the room to remain quiet any longer.

“I’m always, always, always the only black female,” the 28-year-old director of one of Academy Pittsburgh’s coding boot camps wrote in a Facebook post a few months ago. “It makes me sad that I’m the only one who looks like me in a room of successful people.”

Ms. Cook’s venting put on a more constructive face Saturday in Homewood, where about 80 tech entrepreneurs, government officials, educators and others discussed what can be done to make the black community more a part of Pittsburgh’s burgeoning tech community.

The meeting was one of 70 events that are part of Inclusive Innovation Week, organized by the city’s Department of Innovation and Performance. It was held at The Shop, a shared work space on North Dallas Avenue for tradespeople, artisans and others who create products or services with their hands.

Attendees sat at tables of eight discussing whether black people feel like they are supported or included in Pittsburgh’s tech community, what can be done to make the tech community more inclusive and supportive, and what resources are needed to accomplish that. General sessions on each of those topics were held after each the issues was hashed out at nine tables.

Ms. Cook hopes her “Where is Black Tech in Pittsburgh?” discussion will make more people realize there is a problem. Because if they don’t, “nothing will get done,” she said.

She plans to use information she collected today to make a case with government officials, tech companies, accelerator and incubator organizers and black tech company owners that they should do something about it. Ms. Cook is confident that will happen.

“I have been so well received as a black female in the tech community,” the Chicago native said. “It makes me feel that people really want to do something.”

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