Theresa Freet is being honored as a Champion of Change for her work to expand opportunities for young learners from communities historically underserved or underrepresented in tech fields.
Education has always been a central part of my work. I believe wholeheartedly that knowledge is power. And that such power should belong to everyone.
As I became more interested in technology, it became clear that understanding computers and having the skills to code are very powerful tools in changing an individual’s prospects, and in changing the world. Technology impacts all areas of life and the people writing the code for how that technology works are determining our future. It just made sense to me that those people must be as diverse and wide a group as possible in order to harness to full potential of how technology can serve the world.
I started working with CodeMontage and Developers for Good because of Vanessa Hurst, the founder of both organizations and a lifelong friend. She always says, “Software is about humanity. It’s about helping people by using computer technology.” That resonated with me. However, I worried, like many others, that the uniformity of voices meant that software was not helping as many people as it could, or benefiting from the variety of perspectives that leads to innovation.
With CodeMontage, I work to give individuals better access to technology and to encourage those voices already in the technology sector to become more vocal leaders and community contributors. We’re working to get more variety in the field, and to better prepare all of these enthusiastic individuals for careers in computing and lifetimes of harnessing the power of their skills for good. CodeMontage recently led the Code Day at Write Speak Code, an annual action-based conference designed to give women developers the skills and confidence to be thought leaders and visible advocates in technology. By encouraging underrepresented voices to speak up more noticeably and teaching young women more about computer software, through projects like a course at Barnard College in New York City, we’re hoping to erase the disparities in the tech industry.
Including more voices in technology is challenging and will require sweat, strength, and creativity. However, there is no question to me that we need everyone working to create new technology and design its uses. All the challenges of the future, from healthcare to food systems, climate change to poverty relief, can benefit tremendously from the power of technology. More importantly, technology will become increasingly more powerful and impactful as we include more voices.
Theresa Freet is an Organizer for Developers for Good.