Black Engineers in Silicon Valley Get Some Assistance from Each Other


Ime Archibong was eating lunch on Facebook’s Silicon Valley campus with former colleague Makinde Adeagbo last year when Adeagbo pitched the idea for /dev/color, a nonprofit organization to bring together and grow the ranks of African-American software developers.

“We sat outside, right in front of the ice cream shop, and he was painting this vision for me of what he wanted to do,” Archibong recalls.

Adeagbo, who at the time worked at Pinterest, was one of the first black software engineers at Facebook and had forged a career path for other black engineers to follow. Now he aspired to do the same thing only on an industry wide scale.

“That is something I cannot help but get behind,” Archibong, a software engineer who is now Facebook’s director of strategic partnerships, told USA TODAY.

/dev/color, a support network for engineers of color, officially launched a year ago and has since grown to 114 members, all black, many of whom often found themselves feeling isolated while navigating an industry dominated by white and Asian men.

On Friday, /dev/color is holding its inaugural conference on Facebook’s campus — “Onwards and Upwards: Advancing the careers of black software engineers” — headlined by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz and Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer and featuring sessions on such topics as how to go from engineer to manager and how to build a business with an engineering background.

The conference marks a major milestone for /dev/color, a reference to a common directory on computer systems and a nod to the organization’s mission. It’s expanding its offerings and its geographic footprint to New York with the backing of seven corporate sponsors that include Facebook, Google, Uber and Pinterest. And, for the first time, it’s inviting industry leaders to become members.

Adeagbo’s /dev/color is one of a growing wave of enterprising organizations — Black Girls Code, CODE 2040, the Hidden Genius Project — founded by African Americans that are aiming to close the racial gap in the tech industry.

Adeagbo came up with the idea for /dev/color while volunteering as a mentor to a couple of computer science students and worked on the project part-time while at Pinterest with the company’s blessing. Adeagbo left his engineering job at Pinterest earlier this year to dedicate himself to /dev/color when it was accepted into Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most famous — and most influential — incubator, graduating companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit.

“We believe one of the best ways to inspire change is by empowering employees to be the change,” says Candice Morgan, Pinterest’s diversity chief.

Click here to read more

Source: USA Today | Jessica Guynn