Why it matters that Philly has a conference for women of color in tech

We spoke with Jumoke Dada, organizer of the second annual HUE conference, ahead of the May 3 Philly Tech Week event.

Jumoke Dada (center) at last year's HUE Tech Summit.

(Courtesy photo)

After two decades in IT consulting, software development and project management, Jumoke Dada — founder of consulting firm Signature RED — kept running into women of color she hadn’t met before at tech events outside of Philly.

“Here they were, 10 years into a software engineering career, and I started paying attention to the fact that there were these women out there that no one hears about,” Dada said. “My experience being here in Philly in terms of women of color is that there has to be more of us out there.”

That’s what led Dada to start the Tech Women Network platform and the upcoming HUE Tech Summit conference, two spaces geared at growing connective tissue between women of color in tech, a vertical that in Philly (and beyond) is widely dominated by male, white staffers.

The summit, which will hold its second annual event on May 3 as part of Philly Tech Week 2019 presented by Comcast, has extra significance, Dada said, in that it will help put the map in Philly for regular programming geared at women of color in tech.

“Because I go to conferences out of state, I noticed there was something like this missing in the area,” Dada said.

The lineup of speakers at HUE includes 33 speakers, including execs from LinkedIn, the City of Philadelphia and Gartner. The keynote speakers will be Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton and Tequitable founder Lisa Gelobter.

Dada warns of the downside to a tech industry that doesn’t diversify its workforce.

“The risk is staying the same,” said the Temple University alum. “The benefit of showcasing, spotlighting and retaining women of color is that you are truly embracing what the world looks like. If we’re going to solve pipeline issues, [women of color] have to be able to see some women that look like them.”

(Last year, the NorthStar Conference — organized by the City of Philadelphia and nonprofit Black and Brown Founders put together three days of programming aimed at Black and Latinx founders.)

“It’s an exciting time to be a woman of color in tech,” Dada said.

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