Women in IT Security: Women to watch
Women in IT Security: Women to watch

Kat Calvin, tech entrepreneur, co-founder of Black Girls Hack/Blerdology, Michelle in Training, UpliftTECH

When Kat Calvin discovers a problem, a solution can't be far behind.

Not one to sit around and simply discuss an issue to death, Calvin prides herself on taking action. The latest venture from the co-founder of Blerdology, is aimed at helping organizations connect with Blacks and Hispanics already in STEM fields. 

Her initial goal, she says, was to encourage more minorities to get into STEM before she realized they were already there and just needed to be showcased to encourage young people, especially girls. “When they don't see women in STEM, blacks in STEM, children don't think they can do it,” she explains.

She is bringing the same passion to the effort, UpliftTECH, as she brought to Blerdology, created after she discovered that African-Americans, particularly black women, were under-represented in the tech industry. The group began to host hackathons, including Black Girls Hack – to spotlight tech startups – starting with an inaugural event in Atlanta. Blerdology, a riff on the phrase black nerds, or blerds, co-hosted a #BlackHack Hollywood hackathon at the forward-thinking SXSW festival in Austin before Calvin had to shutter it while battling a health issue.

A long-time advocate for getting women and minorities on equal footing in the workplace, particularly in tech, Calvin noticed the disparity earlier on – in her first year of college – between those students who came from professional or enriched households.

“It became incredibly obvious to me, first-generation college students have abysmally low graduation rates,” says Calvin, who is the fourth generation of women in her own family to go to college. “They hit a glass wall and don't understand why they're not succeeding.” – TR