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Jan Lee headshot

Black Girls Code and General Motors Partner for STEM Opportunities in Detroit

By Jan Lee

It says something when a not-for-profit organization directed at shaking up diversity numbers in the tech industry can choose its donors. This week, Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant released a statement acknowledging that the six-year-old organization had made its decision: It would accept a $255,000 grant from General Motors. The organization also acknowledge in a separate announcement that it had turned down a $125,000 grant from Uber.

According to Bryant GM's funding will help a strategic goal for Black Girls Code: It will “lay a foundation to fully engage girls of color in Detroit.”

For GM, it's an opportunity to "help build the next generation of STEM leaders," said GM CEO Mary Barra, an effort that GM sees as part and parcel with an "emphasis on expanding opportunities to women and other underrepresented groups."

Only about 9 percent of the automotive manufacturing labor force comprised women of color in 2014, according to a 2015 Deloitte study. The research also found that the automotive industry has one of the worst records when it comes to hiring and retention of women in tech positions.

GM recognizes that the automotive industry's future will include innovations like the self-driving car and electric vehicles, both which will need new, young talent to meet the competitive edge of developing technologies. GM's donation to Black Girls Code and its partnership in developing opportunities for women of color is part of its broader commitment to STEM education, according to TechCrunch, which puts GM's donations to date at about $10 million.

In the coming months, Black Girls Code will be busy in Detroit. In November it will be offering a robot expo to engage school-age girls in the opportunities in STEM, setting the groundwork for a new shakeup of diversity numbers in the old but ever-changing automotive industry.

Image: Flickr/ITU Pictures

Jan Lee headshot

Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.

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