The Oscars Tried to Diversify. Somehow Diversity Didn’t Follow.

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In leaving out several prominent and viable contenders, the Academy fell back on its historic biases.

— Kyle Buchanan, New York Times culture reporter and awards season columnist


On Monday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the list of Oscar nominees and, unsurprisingly, it was overwhelmingly white and male.

A grand total of zero women were nominated in the best director category, leaving off several critically acclaimed names who had created major box office hits, such as Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”). Most of the best picture front-runners featured an all-male cast, with women playing ornamental roles on the fringes.

Racial diversity didn’t fare much better: All but one (Cynthia Erivo in “Harriet”) of the best actor and actress nominees were white. Jennifer Lopez, who was widely expected to secure a best supporting actress nomination for playing the savvy, complex character of Ramona in “Hustlers,” was snubbed.

Though the academy has tried to diversify, white and male voters still make up the majority of its 9,000-member voting pool, which recommends the final list of nominees and therefore determines which parts of American culture deserve to be canonized. And, for the most part, stories about women still don’t seem to make the cut. In fact, the audience at early screenings of “Little Women,” as Vanity Fair reported, “was overwhelmingly comprised of women” — men weren’t even watching the film.

“The homogeneous group of gatekeepers that came before us still affects so much of what we consider worthy of canonization,” writes Kyle Buchanan, a New York Times culture reporter and awards season columnist. “Changing those entrenched attitudes will require not just diverse membership rolls, but a willingness to investigate who and what we deem important.”

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I caught up with Buchanan to discuss why the Oscars lineup is still so white and male.

You mention in one of your articles that “Hustlers” couldn’t pull off an awards-season rebrand. Walk us through what you mean by that and what Oscars campaigning typically looks like.

There are two ways of going about it. There are certain movies that just immediately announce themselves as being very Oscar-worthy — your Martin Scorsese films, your Quentin Tarantino films.

And then you have films that are big hits and so successful that people start to think, “Well, shouldn’t this be nominated for an Oscar?”

The thing that happens at that point is that [the movie’s team needs] to say, “We’re more than just a mainstream success. We have something to say. We’re important. We have some sort of cultural weight,” which to my mind, “Hustlers” had. It’s a really savvy, smart movie about class, gender, our current economic and social state and similarly I thought there was a lot more going on beneath the surface in Jennifer Lopez’s performance.

But I don’t know that they ever quite convinced awards voters that it was more than just some hit movie.

So Oscar voters are not looking just at box office statistics. What, then, are they looking for exactly?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question. And I think that’s especially relevant when it comes to movies about women and by women because those films can be about the exact same things that movies about men are and they still have a harder time cracking the Oscar conversation.

Last year, we saw another female-dominated crime film, “Widows,” directed by Steve McQueen, who had won the best picture Oscar for “12 Years a Slave.” It was his follow-up movie, and it didn’t get nominated for anything. Crime dramas are no stranger to Oscars, but crime dramas that star women where they’re unapologetic, not always likable and in charge of their own situation, have a harder time getting Oscar attention.

You also mention in your article that Jennifer Lopez’s ambition might have dented her chances. Why?

One of the tricky things about the Oscars is that there is a weird kind of target you have to hit where they know you want it, but not too much.

Leonardo DiCaprio was extremely reluctant to do any campaigning for “Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood” this year. In fact, he did more campaigning for other people’s movies. If you asked him to sit for major media profiles, as Jennifer Lopez did, he turned them all down. But when Mo’Nique won the best supporting actress trophy for “Precious,” she famously was not campaigning and it became the thing that everybody talked about.

We all know that when it comes to female ambition, that is so much more heavily policed than it is for men.

After #OscarsSoWhite, the academy made it a point to diversify its voting body. What happened with that?

The academy is becoming more diverse. It is taking great pains to admit a lot more women and people of color.

But at the same time, the tricky thing is that generations before us have canonized certain types of stories, and they are almost always male-led and almost always have to do with extremely weighty matters, like murder or violence, often against women, or war. “1917,” for example, is nominated and there’s only one role for a woman in it, and one scene.

Do you think that the problem with the Oscars is maybe further back in the pipeline? That few women make movies therefore few women are nominated?

Everybody who is part of this process will throw up their hands and say, “It’s not my fault that these nominees are not diverse. It’s the fault of the people who make the movie.”

That’s true to some extent, but the thing is, even though the Oscars don’t make the movies, they affect what movies get made. And I think that’s really crucial. If a movie is in the pipeline that resembles something like “The Irishman,” it is going to get closer to a green light than a movie like “Hustlers” or “The Farewell,” which had to fight to be made and which were famously turned down by almost every studio.

Yes, the Oscars can only choose from the movies that are in front of them, but there is often a bounty of diverse stories in front of them and they don’t always choose them. And then that has a sort of pernicious ripple effect that affects the next crop of movies.

Last question — which of the best picture nominees is your favorite?

I do love that “Parasite” is in the conversation.

Readers: Which films do you think deserved an Oscar nod? Which actors, directors and others do you feel were overlooked? Tell us here.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has mounted an effort to double female and minority membership, in large part by inviting in more film professionals from overseas.

But even after four years of the initiative, the organization remains quite homogeneous. Here’s a breakdown:

  • 9,537: Total number of Oscars voters, as of December 2019.

  • 68: The percentage of Oscars voters who are male.

  • 84: The percentage of Oscars voters who are white.

What Atlanta Can Teach Tech About Cultivating Black Talent

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The city is rich in opportunity for African Americans, who are largely underrepresented in the industry. It’s also poised to become a hotbed for AI innovation.

Inside the Gathering Spot, a posh members-only club in Atlanta that serves a diverse set of entrepreneurs and innovators, Travis and Troy Nunnally—better known as the Tech Twins—are holding court.

After discovering a love of engineering by building soapbox derby racing cars as kids, the brothers have launched a few different companies in Atlanta. Holding two master’s and a doctorate from Georgia Tech between them, the twins are cofounders of Brain Rain Solutions, which builds augmented-reality, internet-of-things, and technology-based products for companies. Their most recent product, FaceMD+, uses dermatologist databases and machine learning to create a customized skin-care tracker—with algorithms providing customized data for each skin tone and type.

The Nunnally brothers specialize in applying machine learning to a variety of problems, and their growing business means that they spend a lot of time hiring employees and contractors.

But as two black men on the forefront of the machine-learning revolution, they are also concerned about the readiness of black tech talent: Machine learning requires knowledge of Python coding, algorithmic optimization techniques, and advanced math like calculus. “The first step into the pipeline is a developer,” Troy says. “Once you have that base, you can add on the skill set. In the African American community, [the funnel] gets narrow and even more narrow.”

The Nunnallys represent a rarity in tech, much less AI. “When I graduated in 2014, there were less than 100 black men in the whole nation with a PhD in machine learning,” Troy says. “We get scared because we don’t see anybody like us. We do see people at the top in entertainment, in sports, but we don’t see people at the top of technology.”

What would it take to make more tech twins? And how can technology become more diverse and welcoming to underrepresented groups? The answer may be where few are looking—the city of Atlanta.


Some 2,482 miles outside of Silicon Valley, Atlanta is a technological powerhouse—with a growing focus on the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. Blessed with excellent institutions of higher learning like Georgia Tech, Emory, Morehouse, and Spelman, and with a robust private sector, Atlanta’s tech scene is also a rarity: a hotbed of diverse innovation.

Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and UPS are all headquartered in Atlanta, and tech standouts like Jewel Burks Solomon (who sold her startup PartPic to Amazon) and Tristan Walker (who is relocating his Walker Brands HQ to Atlanta after his sale to Proctor & Gamble) call the city home.

But when it comes to AI, even Atlanta’s tech scene is not making much of a mark in the national picture of gender and racial diversity. According to the AI Now Institute’s 2019 report Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race, and Power in AI(read more)

Issa Rae: Movie academy ‘needs to do better’ on diversity

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Issa Rae says her comment “Congratulations to those men” was the result of being told to banter to kill time during announcement of the Oscar nominations

PASADENA, Calif. — Issa Rae’s quick comment after five men were announced as Oscar nominees for best director was spur of the moment, but for many captured the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees.

“We were told to banter for five seconds as the teleprompter loaded, so that was my banter,” Rae told a TV critics meeting Wednesday. “I didn’t lie. I said congratulations.”

“Congratulations to those men,” Rae said dryly after the director category was revealed Monday. Greta Gerwig, who oversaw the acclaimed “Little Women,” was among the women directors who were shut out.

“I just think it’s unfortunate. The academy needs to do better,” Rae said. “I’m kind of tired of having the same conversation. Every year it’s something. For me it’s just pointing out when I see it. I don’t want to get too worked up about it. It’s annoying.”

Cynthia Erivo of “Harriet” was the only person of color among the 20 acting nominees. Rae presented this year’s Oscar nominations along with fellow actor John Cho.

Rae is working on the upcoming fourth season of her HBO comedy “Insecure,” which she created, stars, writes and executive produces.

The Oscars will be presented Feb. 9 in Los Angeles and aired live on ABC.

Ava DuVernay is not happy with Stephen King’s views on diversity

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Sephen King apparently doesn’t believe diversity should override art.

The horror author weighed in Tuesday on the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.
King, who has had several of his novels and short stories adapted into films, is an Academy member.
“As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay,” King tweeted. “For me, the diversity issue–as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway–did not come up.”
“That said…,” he continued. “…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
That didn’t go over well, especially with director Ava DuVernay, who has championed inclusion in Hollywood.
She retweeted King’s thoughts and added her own commentary.
“When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed,” DuVernay tweeted.
King came back a few hours after his initial tweets with further thoughts.
“The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation,” he tweeted. “Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts. You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

Fans link J.Lo, Awkwafina and Lupita snubs to Oscars diversity problem

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Fans also took issue with the fact that Cynthia Erivo, the only black woman nominated, portrayed a slave in “Harriet.”

Fans say the exclusion of Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Lupita Nyong’o and Eddie Murphy from this year’s Oscar awards is a glaring example of the Academy’s continued history of omitting artists of color from its annual nominations.

“One Black acting nominee … despite a plethora of chances to reward so many amazing performances from Black, Latinx and Asian actors this year,” tweeted writer Matthew Rodriguez. “One nominee doesn’t excuse this #OscarsSoWhite lineup,” he wrote, referring to Cynthia Erivo, who was the only one actress of color to be nominated for an acting Oscar.

One of the most noticeable snubs was that of Lopez, who was expected to be nominated or her portrayal of Ramona Vega, a veteran stripper in “Hustlers,” a role for which she had already earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

Instead, Erivo, Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron and Renee Zellweger were nominated for best lead actress, and Kathy Bates, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, and Margot Robbie are up for best supporting actress. Scarlett Johansson was nominated in both categories.

Fans are especially perturbed by Lopez’s omission because they believe it is not the first time the actress has been snubbed. Many state that Lopez should have been nominated for her role as Selena, the iconic Tejano singer, in the 1997 biopic. And further compounding her snub is that had Lopez been nominated, she would have become the first U.S.-born Latina nominated for an acting Oscar since Rosie Perez was up for “Fearless” 25 years ago.

Lopez’s nomination would have been all the more historic has she been competing in the lead actress category. The actress would have been the fifth Latina nominee in the category and could have been the first Latina winner in the award’s history.

Yet Lopez was not the only actor who inspired tweets with #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that gained prominence in 2015 after all 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were white for the second year in a row.

Ron Rubin@ronaldrubin

Jennifer Lopez was snubbed from her first ever Oscar nomination so others could be recognized for playing the same basic white women characters 🤬🤦🏻‍♂️

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CHAMPIONS OF DIVERSITY ACQUIRES AMERISOUND RECORDING STUDIOS

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Recruitment Advertising Agency Expands Services to Include Audio and Video Production

(Columbus, OH January 14, 2020) Champions of Diversity Media, Inc. the recruitment ad agency founded by legendary newspaper publisher and The Godfather of the Ohio Black Press, the Late Amos H. Lynch, Sr. announces the acquisition of legendary Amerisound Recording Studios with has a celebrity client list that includes major recording artists Lil’ Wayne, Gucci Mane, James Taylor and other notable award winning artists.

Champions of Diversity’s purchase of Amerisound Studios includes an over 3000 square foot facility located on nearly one full acre of land within the Central Ohio Rome-Hilliard Rd. industrial area. The facility itself includes four state of the art video and audio production studios, an Internet radio station and web design center. “We are extremely excited about the creative possibilities available to our company with this opportunity,” says Orville C. Lynch, Jr. Chief Executive Officer, “We look forward to continuing the creative excellence and wonderful legacy Dan Green and Amerisound have created for the Central Ohio community and beyond.”

Amerisound Recording Studios, was founded by Dan Green, a veteran musician and recording engineer. Green designed the actual construction of the facility from ground up with detailed state of the art sound proofing and audio acoustic specifications in order to produce high quality studio masters which has attracted national artists to come to Amerisound for recording services. Today Amerisound has expanded its services to include video production, movie soundtracks and digital animation.  “I am pleased that we connected with Champions of Diversity and the Lynch Family to continue the creative legacy that Amerisound brings to the table which goes hand in hand with the legacy they historically have with urban media, diversity and community outreach in Central Ohio.”

The new COD Amerisound Studios kicks off with a range of new media projects that include a video podcasting channel and several film and documentary projects for streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others.

 

About Champions of Diversity Media Inc. 

The Champions of Diversity Media Inc. and its brands Career Town and Amerisound Studios overall mission is to be a resource for news and information regarding those who demonstrate the best practices and diversity and inclusion within the business, social and cultural ecosystem.  Champions of Diversity Media is a full services advertising agency, media publishing company and multicultural events services network dedicated to promoting and presenting hundreds diversity job fairs and events throughout the United States.  Through its Career Town on-demand virtual job fair hosting platform uses proprietary online recruitment technology that powers online career fairs globally.

 

 

 

 

Lessons in creative problem solving from MLK

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Wisdom from Martin Luther King Jr. can do more than just motivate and inspire. His words hold meaning for anyone trying to reach a goal.

Martin Luther King Jr. may be one of the most well-known and oft-quoted leaders of our time. But did you ever stop to think that his inspirational aphorisms on justice, peace, and equality might also hold the keys to creative problem-solving?

Looking closely at many of his writings and speeches, we uncovered some gems that can illuminate the way forward when you’re stuck in a personal or professional rut.

“FAITH IS TAKING THE FIRST STEP EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T SEE THE WHOLE STAIRCASE.”

The thing about solving problems–especially of the thorny variety–is that in our quest for a certain outcome, we don’t necessarily know the path that will take us there. This is where MLK’s wisdom comes in handy. He urges us to just get started and believe in our ability to climb even though we may not be able to visualize the top.

Having faith also means that you need to have a deep-rooted belief in the parts of the process you know you can control. In a literal sense, you know you can raise your leg and put your foot in the middle of the first step and pull yourself up. When it comes to other goals, like negotiating a raise or interviewing for a job, you know that when you enter the room you can smile, shake hands, and look the other person in the eye. Visualizing these small actions and believing that you can do them, can affect the outcome in a positive way–even if you don’t get the pay bump or the position.

“IF YOU CAN’T FLY THEN RUN, IF YOU CAN’T RUN THEN WALK, IF YOU CAN’T WALK THEN CRAWL, BUT WHATEVER YOU DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD.”

Losing momentum may be one of the toughest challenges to overcome when you’re trying to reach a goal. The trick, embedded in this nugget of MLK’s is to just keep moving–even if that forward motion isn’t going to send you from zero to 60 in three seconds. One productivity expert suggests keeping a list on hand of tasks you can complete in 15 minutes or less. Ticking that off the to-do list boosts the sense of accomplishment and may just be the space you need to rethink your approach to the larger goal.

“NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE FAMOUS BUT EVERYBODY CAN BE GREAT, BECAUSE GREATNESS IS DETERMINED BY SERVICE.”

There’s a popular style of leadership that is characterized by what top brass can do for their reports. At its most extreme, it can be illustrated by the CEO doing entry-level work in an effort to boost employee morale and engagement. This so-called servant leadership can also help high-ranking officials discover the true heartbeat of their organization, which they wouldn’t otherwise hear if they’re constantly sequestered in meetings or segregated in their offices.

Service keeps leaders humble and humility is a great approach to problem-solving, according to Mike DeFrino, CEO of Kimpton Hotels. “There’s a lot more to learn and gain by listening to your employees and stop thinking that you have all the great suggestions and the answers to the questions,” he told Fast Company in a previous interview.

“I HAD SPOKEN HASTILY AND RESENTFULLY. YET I KNEW THAT THIS WAS NO WAY TO SOLVE A PROBLEM. ‘YOU MUST NOT HARBOR ANGER,’ I ADMONISHED MYSELF. ‘YOU MUST BE WILLING TO SUFFER THE ANGER OF THE OPPONENT, AND YET NOT RETURN ANGER. YOU MUST NOT BECOME BITTER. NO MATTER HOW EMOTIONAL YOUR OPPONENTS ARE, YOU MUST BE CALM.’”

As this quote illustrates, King wasn’t always calm and peaceful in the face of challenges. Here he was regretting losing his cool over the stalemate over the Montgomery bus boycotts in 1955. But there’s a lesson for us to learn through this glimpse into his less-than-perfect, yet all-too-human response. It helps to remember this when you’re staring down a person or situation that is getting on your last nerve. Understand your limitations, and take a beat before you blow your stack rather than beat yourself up about it later.

“WE MAY HAVE ALL COME ON DIFFERENT SHIPS, BUT WE’RE IN THE SAME BOAT NOW.”

When an idea or goal is at stake, many of us would go to the mat to prove that it’s worthy. This can lead to tension and conflict with our teammates or supervisors, or worse, someone giving in at the expense of a better idea or solution. The better way to handle it borrows from MLK’s quote. Recognize that you are working together.

As Josh Davis, PhD, and Hitendra Wadhwa, PhD, wrote in Fast Company, “When you find a way to agree with something other than the solution to the problem you’re debating, you can shift the frame of the conversation to include a factor you both see as true and relevant. That makes it easier for the other person to lay down their arms and stop fighting. Instead, they start listening.”

“BE A BUSH IF YOU CAN’T BE A TREE. IF YOU CAN’T BE A HIGHWAY, JUST BE A TRAIL. IF YOU CAN’T BE A SUN, BE A STAR. FOR IT ISN’T BY SIZE THAT YOU WIN OR FAIL. BE THE BEST OF WHATEVER YOU ARE.”

Although King gave this speech to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia in 1967, it’s just as relevant for adults today. Especially those who are leading startups. We’ve often heard that slow and steady wins the race–everywhere except in Silicon Valley (and it’s startup-centric counterparts around the globe). It takes courage to follow King’s words and focus on being the best rather than the biggest and fastest.

Jessica Rovello, CEO and cofounder of gaming company Arkadium, recently modeled this wisdom when she bought it back from its VC investors. “We are building a people-first, long-term business,” she told Fast Company in a previous interview. “It is very surprising to me that in so many other areas of society, we have evolved to take a long-term view of things, like the environment. I don’t understand why that hasn’t translated to business, and why this short-sighted, short-term, high-growth, high-burnout scenario is considered the ultimate calling for a company.”

“MAY I STRESS THE NEED FOR COURAGEOUS, INTELLIGENT, AND DEDICATED LEADERSHIP. LEADERS OF SOUND INTEGRITY.”

Regardless what your job title is, this other quote from King isn’t just helpful to remember when solving problems. Rather it can be seen as an all-purpose appeal for everyone to be mindful of how they interact with others all day long. Taken together, these characteristics play into the core tenets of emotional intelligence which is one of the fastest-growing skills employers are seeking in candidates. High emotional intelligence is key to influencing people in an organization at any level. And that can create all kinds of opportunities to succeed.

Women in tech: “Diversity is mute without inclusion!”

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Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Khallai Taylor.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Khallai Taylor.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Khallai Taylor

Khallai Taylor is a Fintech Product Evangelist in Berlin and a consultant of secure API’s and Blockchain in Africa, America, and Europe. Khallai works directly with engineering, product, compliance and sales teams ensuring streamlined communication and product development between the teams. Khallai has 17+ years as a technologist, academic and an advocate for women in tech.

What first got you interested in tech?

I’ve always been interested in how things work and as a kid, I would take apart Ataris and other electronics and put them back together (Yes, I just dated myself!). In undergrad, I majored in engineering but became discouraged when I saw no women or people of color in any of my courses. Leading to me changing my course of study, but in graduate school, I was focused on pursuing technology and successfully completed my degree in the field.

How did you end up in your career path?

I started my technical career at IBM and moved on to academia becoming a Professor and Dean of Computer Science at the undergraduate level in the United States. As such, I worked closely with businesses in the community and local government to create technical programs and apprenticeships for my students. Which taught me a great deal about technical needs within businesses, finding talent, and scaling. As a woman in tech, you will always face obstacles. For me, this consisted of people doubting my qualifications, expertise, and abilities. Yet, I always overcame these obstacles as soon as I opened my mouth because I am well skilled in my field and know my stuff!

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

I’ve been lucky to have wonderful female role models throughout my career. Including the first African-American female engineer at IBM! Having role-models that look like you is essential to building confidence and learning how to navigate the industry. Because I have always done things relegated for another group of people my family and friends have always supported me because I will do it anyway!

Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

Absolutely! I’ve had men challenge my knowledge, education, and abilities more times than I can count. With each encounter, I just become more motivated and focused to learn and more importantly reach higher!

A day in Khallai’s life

I am the founder and CEO of RegTheory a cybersecurity and regulatory training firm. We serve the financial sector in Europe and West Africa. I spend my time growing my company, building the core product and meeting with investors.

Having role-models that look like you is essential to building confidence and learning how to navigate the industry.

What are you most proud of in your career?

As an active member of the National Center for Women and Information Technology on the outreach committee dealing with initiatives related to the recruitment and retainment of young women in undergraduate technology, I’m most proud of the resource I assisted in creating for faculty and staff at the undergraduate level on Building Sustainable Initiatives for Diversifying Undergraduate Computing Programs. This project specifically focuses on young women in tech and the faculty they encounter within the 1st year university programming course. My years of volunteer service to this organization helped me to understand and value the importance of women lifting up women throughout her career. Throughout my career, I have mentored and championed other women in an effort to encourage and support them in a male-dominated field of technology.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

There was a time when girls were not encouraged to study engineering, math, or computer science but times have changed! Girls and women are pursuing these technical fields in record numbers and are starting to have a presence in technical roles. However, there is still much work to be done in Europe to increase the number of women in the field. I believe that everyone needs to see someone who looks like them to believe that they can do it too. This is especially true for women to see other women in technical roles and leadership roles within organizations.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

As a woman, I am constantly challenged on my technical knowledge. As a woman of color, I have been treated as a member of the cleaning staff instead of the CEO of a tech company. Many times I have had men talk over me in a meeting or just yell at me for speaking. All these obstacles made me stronger and more aware of the importance of mentoring other women in tech. Having a support system is fundamental to having a long career in the industry. Understanding how to navigate and building a powerful community of women in tech is a lifesaver for women in this industry, as it provides a support system and allies.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

Throughout my career, I have mentored and championed other women in an effort to encourage and support them in a male-dominated field of technology.

Yes, women are naturally analytical thinkers and excel at problem-solving. Having more women in technical fields brings new perspectives and insights to products and services that use technology. In turn increasing customer adoption, retention, and revenues for the company.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

Diversity is mute without inclusion! Meaning that it is not enough to have initiatives on paper that state the company has a diverse workforce when there are no female developers or women on the leadership team. Companies need to have processes and a respective culture in place to actively hire and grow female talent on their engineering teams. In addition to attracting top technical females who will serve as part of the senior leadership team. It’s no longer acceptable to say you believe in diversity without inclusion nor is it ok to claim that there are no qualified women for the role because that is simply not true! Companies just need to put in the effort to find female talent!

What advice would you give to women who want a career in tech?

Know your value! Be confident in your skill-set, understand the value you bring to the team and always negotiate your salary. Don’t be afraid to take a seat at the table and if there isn’t a seat there, bring your own. As a woman in technology, you develop a thick skin and the ability to navigate ambiguity. You also have a responsibility to lift up and champion other women in technical fields.

Mount Sinai Diversity Innovation Hub named among Top 50 Leaders in Digital Health for 2020

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The Diversity Innovation Hub (DIH) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is among the Top 50 in Digital Health for 2020, receiving a Diversity And Inclusion Leadership Award for its efforts to improve health care through technology.

The DIH launched in fall 2019 to address the lack of women and people of color in innovation and technology, to foster ideas and solutions that address social and structural inequalities, and to accelerate efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in medicine and science. The initiative–one of the first of its kind among health care systems–aims to diversify the pipeline for career paths in health care innovation and technology through mentorship, training, and networking opportunities. The DIH is spearheaded by Mount Sinai’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The awards are sponsored by the venture fund Rock Health, the law firm Fenwick & West, Goldman Sachs, and Pacific Western Bank. Winners are chosen by vote of their peers in digital health.

“We are honored to receive this award as we continue to lay the groundwork to create meaningful change in the health field. We may be a growing hub, but this worthy acknowledgement shows the importance of our mission to advance diversity and inclusion through innovation,” says Gary C. Butts, MD, Dean for Diversity Programs, Policy, and Community Affairs, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Mount Sinai Health System. “We welcome the role as a leading incubator in connecting the dots between innovation and diversity and inclusion, and we look forward to expanding programs to educate our students, trainees, and staff, as well as our neighboring communities that we serve, including Harlem.”

In 2019, DIH piloted two programs that will continue this year. The first is a Student Innovation Fellowship that introduces medical students who are female or from groups underrepresented in medicine to the fields of biodesign, health care venture capital, and technology. The second is a curriculum in innovation and design thinking for the North Eastern Regional Alliance MedPrep Program, an educational pipeline program that engages undergraduate students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds over three years to become competitive applicants.

The DIH will host its first Pitch Day this spring at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Winners will receive funds to further develop their plans and ongoing mentorship from the hub’s board of advisors and partners, including community and tech leaders from Silicon Harlem; One Hundred Black Men, Inc. of New York; National Medical Fellowships, Inc.; Radical Health; and RubiconMD.

“We are happy to lead the charge in making a difference in Mount Sinai communities, but also as a model of innovation to diversify the entire health care industry,” says Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “At the Icahn School of Medicine, we’ve taken many steps to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain a central part of our mission as an institution, and the DIH is a truly groundbreaking project, as noted by this recognition for its leadership in the digital health space.”

Mount Sinai is among a distinguished group of leaders and organizations including Kaiser Permanente, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Philips Health recognized for achievements that bring technological advancements to health care and support progress towards a better health care system. The winners were be recognized at the Top 50 in Digital Health Awards dinner hosted by the four sponsoring firms on Sunday, January 12, which kicked off the JP Morgan Health Conference in San Francisco.

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About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools”, aligned with a U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked 23rd nationally for Nephrology and 25th for Diabetes/Endocrinology, and Mount Sinai South Nassau is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai South Nassau are ranked regionally.T

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