Creating new opportunities in technology is an ever-present challenge for Black women. Brown is no stranger to the many challenges faced by boutique and small Black women-owned tech companies.
“Black women in technology are the unicorns of mythology,” says Charlene Brown, a full stack web developer, branding specialist and owner of Bklyn Custom Designs (bklyncustomdesigns.com), one of few small women-owned tech companies aimed at ensuring new and established businesses that are professionally and effectively branded. “We are incredibly rare,” says Brown, who has been in business for nearly 20 years, “but we’ve come a long way.”
Finding a large pool of Black women in technology, although daunting, is not an impossible task. In various sectors of business, Black women generally tend to be grossly underrepresented or in some industries, systematically excluded. Technology easily falls near the back of the bus when it comes to the essential and substantial representation of Black women. In recent years, however, the number of skilled Black women in business overall has increased exponentially. Seeking out this niche group of experts should be a priority if the technological landscape is to be inclusive, allowing for fresh ideas from an overlooked and often ignored group.
Gains in the field of technology could help to position women in general to play more vital roles in technological advancements. Women hold about 25% of the market share of tech positions according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s 2016 report. The numbers are incredibly abysmal for Black women, who hold only 3% of all tech positions in the industry. While the task of bringing more Black women into the tech field is daunting due to various social, economic and ethnic/racial roadblocks and/or general exclusion, Black women are not deterred by the numbers and are fervently engaged in ways to more readily enter this ever-evolving and growing premium sector.
“Our current economic times are challenging enough when it comes to finding clients who are financially poised to utilize my services,” says Brown. “It becomes more of a challenge when potential clients realize that you are not only a woman but a Black woman.”