education social justice women

Black Girls Code

Combating social inequity by giving Black girls access to STEM education

If you’re a girl and Black, there’s opportunity gap

The reason Silicon Valley is predominantly white male isn’t because they care more about tech or they’re more capable. It’s because they’ve had the most opportunity. Women and minorities, on the other hand, have fewer STEM education opportunities — not to mention having to fight a false stereotype that they’re not good enough. To give more girls and minorities opportunity to learn technology, we partnered with Black Girls Code to build a coding lab in New York City.

Sponsors Black Girls Code, Google
Status built
Causes education, social justice
Location New York, USA
Designers Lara Hansmann, Chengwen Fung, Olivia Kim, Navjot Heer, Parker Murray, Danish Kurani
Press NowThis, Architectural Digest, ArchDaily, Contract Design, Fast Company

The lab gives girls a place to meet other girls doing tech. It’s an important alternate reality for them to see, different from the face of tech the media shows them. To build their confidence, the lab’s design demystifies how technology works. In the main classroom, girls are surrounded by wall graphics illustrating the anatomy of seminal technologies like a CPU, mobile phone, and digital camera.

The design Kurani created is a perfect learning space for our girls.

Kimberly BryantCEO, Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant
CEO, Black Girls Code

Our design lets girls break things open and explore how they’re made. When you remove the mysterious shell, they see that tech is just parts and pieces, hardware and software they can tinker with and design themselves. Even the ceiling has been designed to be a larger-than-life motherboard so girls can learn how copper circuits work.

Girls enter the lab through a Spark Room, where interactive displays get them excited about the day’s workshop and their coaches. Copper touchpoints on the floor give them an instant and tactile connection to technology.

Before and during workshops, girls get to play with gadgets and everyday objects that have been cracked open by the staff. There’s even an interactive game for matching the shells of popular products like VR headsets and a Playstation with the hardware powering them from the inside.

The lab has cozy places for girls to meet with mentors or work together on coding projects. In the dining lounge, the walls even have messaging that teaches girls how to code their first HTML website.

An elevated stage with raceway lighting puts girls in the spotlight as they present their tech creations to parents and fellow girls.

Building culture at home

As they’re leaving, girls can take Makey Makeys and Little Bits kits to continue learning and tinkering at home with their families.

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