Diversifying the technology industry

Diversifying the technology industry through Louisville training programs
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 7:53 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Technology is everywhere. In the current digital age, society relies on technology in applications, electronics, cars, devices, equipment and other items.

The companies that create those products have to remember the demographic of their users, but the demographics of their users aren’t reflected within the employees of most companies.

“Adding diversity into the technology is an honest challenge,” said Brian Luerman, Director of Technology Programs, Kentuckiana Works. “The history and background of the technology industry are that’s predominantly white and male industry. Training and organizations like Kentuckiana works are trying change.”

Data analysis from Kentuckiana Works shows that locally in the tech sector, women only represent 37%. Their data shows, Black people account for 6%.

They say factors like occupational segregation and discrimination are to blame. This lack of representation decreases the perspectives on how or who uses technology.

“Someone has to be the one that shouts it from the rooftops because they don’t want to hear us,” said Amber Fields, who lost her full-time technology job. “If you don’t listen to us, you will build right over the black community. It will be like a highway over the West End. You don’t ever have to drive through the West End if you don’t want to. It’s the same way in tech.”

Amber Fields worked in the technology sector full-time for 10 years before she was laid off. She’s also the CEO of Black UX labs. Her company was hired by larger businesses.

Black UX Labs focuses on enhancing users’ experiences while on various companies’ websites and apps. From her eyes, making sure people who look like her and have good experiences like other users’ of different ethnic backgrounds.

Fields is just one of many people working to increase diverse tech space.

Locally, Kentuckiana Works is promoting programs that provide training for technology-related jobs for minorities and under-represented groups.

“Different voices are important,” said Luerman. “Not just representing more people in the industry, it’s also diversity of thought, different backgrounds and how companies approach problems. Whether that’s how you are thinking about your customers and whom you are targeting. How you approach a technical or engineering challenge within your organization? When companies have a variety of folks thinking about that problem, it can lead to much more creative solutions for everyone.”

Kentuckiana Works has multiple training Programs like Code Louisville and Empower Up. Empower Up is the newest, and Kentuckiana works are connecting with the Louisville Urban League and LGBTQ organizations for applicants.