After just one computer course, Angie Jones, of Durham was hooked. Now the software engineer is on a mission in hopes of spreading technology fever to other young African American females near and far.
She is all too familiar with being grouped in the 2 percent of minorities that make up the technology workforce. She notes, for black women, that number is less than 1 percent.
Jones remembers plenty of times when she was the only African American female in her college classrooms as well as her early work settings. “It was 12 years before I got to write a program with another black woman,” she said. “There’s something wrong with that.”
Jones is a trailblazer her field.
The professional “techie” works as a Senior Computer Programmer at Teradata. She holds 18 patents in the US and China and is considered a Master Inventor in the industry. Jones also serves as an Adjunct Computer Science Professor at Durham Technical Community College.
Among other notable publications, Jones has been featured in Ebony Magazine as one of the country’s 30 young leaders under the age of 30.
She has dedicated countless hours to exposing more women like herself to the world of technology.
Angie is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Tennessee State University as well as a master’s degree in Computer Science from North Carolina State University. She said her father encouraged her to go into the field of technology.
Her love of fashion and gaming led her to develop Diva Chix, an online fashion designing game.
She said before then, computer fashion games were less than challenging. “After your dressed up the doll, that was it,” she said, “It got boring really fast.”
Jones’ online fashion game keeps its participants engaged. The players graphically design the clot
Players from all over the country are able to communicate and collaborate while they are competing for the top spot.
But it’s not just a game. The Diva Chix mission is twofold.
Jones’ first mission was to make gaming and fashion more fun and interesting.
The next goal is introducing young girls to the field of technology and how to run their own businesses. For example, the gamers learn basic principles of business such as supply and demand and team building. “They learn how to run their own shop,” she said.
Jones said the demographic makeup of her classroom at Durham Tech still mirrors the technology industry numbers across the country. That is why initiatives like hers and CODE2040 are so important.
African American females can offer a different perspective in this ever growing field simply because they come from a different background.
“You can come up with your own ideas and be successful in this field,” Jones said. “We can solve real world problems.”
Jones said the opportunities in technology are endless, adding there are jobs in programming, graphic design, robotics and developing mobile apps. “I never met a programmer … I didn’t even know what that was,” she said. “I want girls to know that this is a possible career path.”
Jones extensive work doesn’t stop there. She also volunteers to teach technology workshops such as Designing Mobile Apps and Website Development for several organizations in the community such as Black Girls Code, TechGirlz, Hi-Tech Teens, and Alpha Kappa Alphas SMART Camp. She also mentors black technology students from Duke and North Carolina Central Universities.
This year, she plans to join forces with Doug Speight and the CODE2040 initiative under the American Underground umbrella in Durham.
Christina Burton, 12, of Durham, started participating in Black Girls Code last year. The group focuses on black girls ages 7 to 18 years old. Burton said the group facilitated more than 50 girls last year. Burton’s mother told her about the program, adding that she enjoys drawing and designing games.
So far, Burton has created her own online game, a website and even a mobile application. She said the mobile application was a fortune telling app. “When you ask it a question, it will reply either, yes, no, maybe, or maybe in the near future after you shake up your phone,” she said, describing the app.
Burton is a sixth-grade student at Bethesda Christian Academy in Durham with aspirations of becoming a game developer and graphic designer.
She said one year she was instructed to do a school project about the career path she was interested in. “I made a computer out of a cardboard box and that was my costume,” she said.
Burton said Jones is a great mentor to the girls and is always very helpful to them. “She is really nice and she tells a lot of jokes,” she said. “She makes it (learning) fun.”
Jones loves to see the girls let their imaginations run wild.
Burton said Black Girls Code lets the young girls experience new things by letting them be creative and then they actually get to see what they created actually work.