GET Cities coming to Miami to help ensure its tech boom embraces gender equity | Opinion

·5 min read

GET Cities launched in 2020 as an initiative designed to ensure the tech industry is an engine for — and not against — equity. We kicked off in Chicago and expanded to the Washington, D.C. metro area earlier this year.

Now we’re coming to Miami to help build a tech ecosystem that is representative of the community, alongside the many local efforts already under way in a city in the early stages of rapid tech growth. Our work spans across education and training, industry and entrepreneurship to catalyze gender parity with an ecosystem approach — through partnerships, fellowships, working groups and co-designed interventions.

GET Cities — Gender Equality in Tech — shares Miami’s values of collaboration, grit, resiliency and innovation; it’s the perfect city to help round out our three hubs in a growing movement toward gender equity in tech.

The current boost in attention on tech in Miami creates an opportunity to align the ecosystem around inclusivity. Many global tech giants such as Spotify, Apple and Facebook have already established a presence here. Miami ranks #1 for tech job growth, and the number of tech job listings in the city grew faster than any other major U.S. city last quarter and by 29% to 14,084 in the second quarter alone. There are 650 students graduating with degrees in computing at FIU every year, not to mention 75% of all women in computing at FIU identify as Black, Latina or Indigenous people.

The Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences is one of the largest growing computing programs in the country, with one of the most diverse student populations. In addition, earlier this year, Miami VC raised $831.4M in the second quarter alone, an increase of 271% from the previous quarter, according to a Venture Monitor report.

All of this growth creates an opportunity and responsibility to intentionally, proactively and collaboratively build a tech economy with and for diverse, local talent — particularly in a city with a tech industry that is two times more diverse than the U.S. tech industry overall in terms of race and gender. The city’s affordability (though that is changing quickly, depending on whom you ask), favorable business environment and the fact that it’s a gorgeous and exciting place to live all put Miami at risk of being overtaken by a tech culture that is transitory, transactional and gentrifying.

At GET Cities, we anchor around those who are the most marginalized to design the most inclusive interventions at scale. Miami is the next right place for us to expand this approach. Growing up during the Civil Rights era and being from Detroit — a city where the Black and white divide was clear and present — I’m aware that when we talk about race in America, we often exclude the expansive Latino/a experience. But what’s really special about Miami is the ethnic and racial complexity of the city and the many communities within it. It truly is an international mosaic that represents a unique and intersectional experience in a concentration unlike anywhere else.

Our work focuses on gender equity, but that can’t exist without justice across all of our many identities — including race, nationality, language, socioeconomic background, differing abilities, etc. This immigrant identity specifically brings with it a critical complexity of gender through a cultural lens that we at GET Cities are eager to learn from. We talk about the cities in our portfolio as being lighthouses for the rest of the country. Our model is one that highlights the challenges and successes of different regions so that other, similar markets can collaborate and learn with us and among each other. The immigrant experience that is foundational to Miami has so much opportunity to influence, particularly with regard to the unique training and cultural competency needs of a workforce from all over the world.

Miami is what the future of many American cities will look like. So it’s important in our work to include it in our understanding of — and recommendations for — an inclusive tech ecosystem at the national level and as a whole.

We also know that women, and Black technologists in particular, in Miami, lack effective support, according to the recent REDI Scorecard by aire ventures. Part of our model also will connect and mobilize our learnings, resources, and connections across our other GET Cities hubs with larger Black populations. We know that in a movement toward justice, our failure to be thoughtful about all cultural implications and opportunities risks exacerbating inequities, or even creating new levels of exclusion in the tech economy and beyond.

Miami is a unique city at a pivotal moment. There is a lot of growth, but there also is still a significant opportunity to build inclusivity into that growth to level the playing field. In our conversations with Miamians, we could feel an excitement around finally being recognized for the depth of talent and innovation that has always been here. We are here to catalyze and learn alongside Miamians with humility and curiosity to get this right.

Our goal is to look back five years from now and see how collectively we worked together to carve out a tech ecosystem that is inclusive of, and built with, and for, everyone. We’re kicking off with Break Through Tech’s partnership with FIU, which is focused on innovative curriculum design, career access and community building. The programs seek to prepare students to graduate with computing degrees and gain the industry experience they need to launch their tech careers. In a city that is all about welcoming newcomers, our hope is that everyone who wants to join and benefit from the investments and intellect here will start from that ethos of equity. And they’ll work with us to follow the lead of women, trans and nonbinary people — particularly Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, and people of color. That’s the side of this story we plan to work on. Join us.

Leslie Lynn Smith is the national director for GET Cities at SecondMuse Foundation.

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