Brooklyn Puts a Spotlight On Diversity In Tech

By Julian Steinforth, Expedition PR

Picture by @TechnicallyBK

Picture by @TechnicallyBK

On Tuesday Brooklyn, a news organization and community builder covering technology,  hosted the “DIVERSITY In/ Tech” event at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center. After a warm welcome by Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams the event started with a panel discussion on the state of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. As these disciplines gain increasing importance in our current economy, so too does the necessity of STEM education in an effort to ensure future generations are equipped with the proper skills for the work force of tomorrow. But when does early specialization overburdens children and teenagers? All participators in the roundtable agreed that early education should be “well rounded”, and not pursuing the goal of breeding young adults with skills to serve corporations. Stephanie Cuskley of NPower also added that the perspective matters. Some people who come from a socially deprived background must make finding a job a primary driver of the educational path they choose.

Schools need to adapt technology further in their curriculum and open it to a wider range of students. Ben Esner, director at K-12 STEM Education, said that after the computer and internet have become part of our daily life in the past 50 years there are still no standards or requirements in NY State for computer science teachers in middle or high school.

Education will include more technology in the future, but there is a big need of qualified, educated role models who can reach out to the children.

The second panel at DIVERSITY In/Tech, moderated by Stacy- Marie Ishmael of The Financial Times, covered the challenges of building and hiring a diverse workforce. Erica Sackin from the Mozilla Foundation talked about the advantages and the joy of working for a multinational company, with employees all over the world and the necessity of flexibility at workplaces in our days. Jocelynne Rainey, Sr. VP of Human Resources and Workforce Development at Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, shared her inspiring definition of diversity, saying that a workplace is divers if everybody can be their authentic selves and don’t need to pretend or act the way that is expected of them, while adding “Let them perform the way, they think they are successful”. To ensure diversity at workplace human resource has the responsibility to look outside their networks as well. It might not always be the easiest way, but human resource shouldn’t rely too often on alumni programs of their universities or ask co-workers for suggestions. Nevertheless creating your own business network is essential for success, especially for minorities.

The “DIVERSITY In/Tech” event ended with a keynote speech from Jennifer Lawton from MakerBot. Starting off with some biographical milestones and a description of the early Silicon Valley in the 80’s, Jennifer Lawton told the story how she got to the 3D – printer manufacturer MakerBot. Hitting a brick wall in the beginning she defaulted on half of her loan to start at MakerBot, envisioning a market for 3D printers in every household, such as like microwaves. This vision could pay off, according to MarketsandMarkets, the 3D Printing Market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% from 2013 to 2020, and reach $8.41 billion in 2020.

But perseverance and vision are already paying off. MakerBot was recently named one of the top 10 companies in consumer electronics in the world and has recorded a tremendous growth over the last years. With Makerbot Academy the company drives the mission to put a MakerBot 3D printer in every school in the United States of America. When asked how MakerBot will ensure that the 3D printers will be used and not get dusty for the reason that none of the teachers know how to use it, Jennifer Lawton answers: “We don’t have an answer yet, but it is on our list”. We hope that MakerBot will find the right answer so that creativity and technology continue to merge paths.

Hashtag of the event: #DivTech


Jennifer Lawton speaking-Picture by @DowntownBklyn

Jennifer Lawton speaking-Picture by @DowntownBklyn