We must trust Black women if we are ever going to diversify ed-tech

The hope is for educators, schools, organizations, and beyond to trust Black women in educational technology.

Only 28% of people working in the tech industry are women, and a staggering 2% of those are Black women. It’s time that we must address the challenges Black women face in the tech workplace.

In the “Trust Black Women in EdTech” session that premiered at FETC© 2022, we began by sharing our expertise on the importance of including Black women and Black teachers as part of crucial leadership conversations. Then, we reviewed pathways for including Black women in conversations about educational technology and tactical strategies for recruitment and retention of employees of color in ed-tech.

The hope is for educators, schools, organizations, and beyond to trust Black women in educational technology. Trust our input, our insights, and our decisions. An example would be to listen and be solution-oriented to suggestions that might come up in meetings or corporate activities.

Doing the work of diversity

We have both been in situations where we work with companies to create more diverse content (i.e. stock photos displaying more than blonde white children) and they have not only listened to us, but trusted our input as to why this may ruffle feathers for educators and administrators.

People need to be willing to “do the work”—meaning that you will need to step out of your comfort zone to learn about identities and backgrounds that may not align with how you identify. This means that you may be uncomfortable at times.

Alicia Sewell
Alicia Sewell

This also may mean learning the history and facts that you may lack—such as some hiring practices and recruiting requirements in the United States and beyond—that may bar people of color and Black women in particular from entering professions of education and educational technology.

We have both been in positions where we have been asked to interview for jobs and have been told that our credentials are a perfect fit, only to be ghosted or denied positions while white people with less credentials within the company have been promoted.

Victoria Thompson
Victoria Thompson

Not only is this disingenuous on behalf of the company, but it puts a sour taste in our mouths as to whether or not they are authentic in their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. We need to be trusting credentials, experience and effectiveness over politics and tenure.

Something we’d like to see to ensure that our voices are being heard is for people to not only listen to our voices, but trust us. This means that we are part of the decision-making process where it applies—i.e. technology solutions, bell schedule, program implementation, policy-making decisions. There also must be actionable follow through to figure out whether or not these initiatives were helpful to the school or organization at large.

We have both been in situations where we have been the only Black women on teams that help to make these decisions, yet our voices were not heard and valued and incorporated into decision-making.

Staying and belonging

Lastly, the talent is out there. If you are interested in hiring Black women and diverse candidates, you just have to actively look for it. As a word of advice, do not only rely on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to find people who want to work in your school, district, or organization.

Some people might have portfolios linked to their biographies or personal websites that provide a wealth of information about who they are and what they can bring to the table. Twitter is also a great place to find people who are passionate about their work and passionate about educational technology.

By continuing this conversation with educators, educational technology professionals and employers, the goal is to create a sense of belonging and contribution for Black women and other employees of color. Hiring people is the first step, but there needs to be a concerted effort to ensure that people not only stay but feel like they belong.


Alicia Sewell and Victoria Thompson
Alicia Sewell and Victoria Thompson
Alicia Sewell, an educator, ed-tech trainer, speaker, advocate, and activist, will teach 6th grade ELA teacher in the 2022-2023 school year. Victoria Thompson is an education industry executive for the K-12 division of Microsoft Education. 

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