Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Build Your Techie Network in One Weekend

by Kai Dupe

Have you ever heard of the Black Data Processing Association (BDPA)? BDPA has been around since 1975. The organization came into being when Earl Pace and David Wimberly met in Philadelphia to discuss their concerns about people of color in the computing industry. People of color were under represented in the field and an overall lack of career mobility existed for those who were in the field.

I first learned of BDPA in 2008. As someone who has been a computer scientists for over 20 years at that time, it is unacceptable to me that it took me so long to learn of its existences. I am not sure what took me so long to learn of this wonderful organization, but part of my mission going forward is to make sure people of color who are interested in technology (which should be all people of color!), are aware of the opportunities that BDPA provides.

The lack of Blacks and other minorities continues to be a problem. Many, including myself, are still studying this problem in 2010. One of the factors that have come to the fore is the social conditioning of people of color when it comes to computing.

It is social conditioning that plays a role when we see Blacks over represented in entertainment and athletics and it is social conditioning when there is an under representation of Blacks in computing. The best resource on this topic that I have found thus far is Stuck in the Shallow End by Jane Margolis.

Now I have attended many conferences on technology and education and the BDPA conference is by far the best technology conference I have ever attended. I have never attended an event where there were so many Black men and women who were technology professionals. There were thousands. The conference provides an opportunity for learning in a environment that is culturally relevant.

The conference is also a place where the youth are encouraged and exposed to technology. Every year the youth participate in the High School Computer Science Competition (HSCC). During the conference, each chapter that entered the competition presents their project which could be anything from developing a piece of desktop software, a website, or perhaps an iPhone app. The winner is crowned as part of the conference.

My observation is that the conference is strictly business during the day and a lot of fun and mingling in the evening! This year the conference is being held in Philadelphia July 28 - July 31. If you are interested in a career in information technology or you are a technology professional who wants to learn what is hot in terms of technology or simply want to connect with other black professionals in information technology, you should make it a point to be in Philadelphia the last week of this month!

I know I will be there!

For more information about BDPA, please visit their site at

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