Mayor Emanuel’s Technology Diversity council met for the first time on Friday to take the first step on their important mission: establishing actionable and tangible goals to improve opportunities for minorities and women in Chicago’s tech economy. The group, which met at Zapwater, welcomed five new members – all women (names below).

TechDiversity

Photo By: Brooke Collins

As the council members took their seats around a large table, they were excited to share ideas about propelling Chicago’s tech community to the next level. Many on the council acknowledged that ideas need to balance the “big picture” vision with more immediate short term goals to work toward building the future of tech in Chicago.

The place to start, they discussed, was education. This is one of the best ways to increase diversity and access is within the tech economy. The members discussed how vital it is to strengthen a “pipeline” for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) students from homeroom to boardroom, much like the STEM program we announced last year. Chicago’s students can only benefit by being exposed to technology skills and future employers in the classroom.

The Mayor equated computer programming knowledge with having a law degree, in the sense of its significance for emerging industries and how the skills one builds can last a lifetime. He announced an innovative program last week to teach Chicago students how to code in a partnership between CPS, CCC, and Chicago startup The Starter League (whose founder and CEO, Neal Sales-Griffin, sits on the Tech Diversity Council).

We’re excited to see what this group of visionaries comes up with for Chicago. What ideas do you have for the Tech Diversity Council? Email them at techdiversitycouncil@cityofchicago.org.

New members of the Tech Diversity Council

 

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