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Flatiron School Celebrates Black History in Data Science

Posted by Flatiron School  /  February 7, 2022

Not too long ago, being a Black American in tech meant beating the odds. But, as we celebrate Black History Month, we look to the individuals who contributed to innovations that have shaped today’s tech industry. 

These brave individuals overcame the inequality of the industry at that time and paved the way for more diversity in tech.

Data Science — one of the bootcamp courses available at Flatiron School — continues to increase in importance for organizations worldwide, including for-profit businesses, governmental agencies, or otherwise. And as the importance of data science and data analytics increases, so does the demand for people for data scientist jobs. 

3 Black innovators in the history of data science:

Valerie Thomas

Valerie Thomas 1943-

Valerie Thomas loved math and science in her early childhood years but did not receive support from her family or society to pursue this path. Through the challenges she faced as a black woman in this space, she eventually landed a role as a mathematical/data analyst for NASA leading teams of up to 50 people at a time. Her job analyzing satellite data led to her discovery of an optical illusion that occurs with concave mirrors. She patented this discovery and went on to receive numerous awards including the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal.

David Blackwell

David Blackwell 1919-2010

Entering college at 16, David Blackwell had an early start to his very successful career as a professor at multiple prestigious institutions nationwide including the University of California, Berkeley; Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia; and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

After years of research and studies on game theory, Blackwell co-authored the book “Theory of Games and Statistical Decisions”. 

Blackwell was the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. 

WEB Du Bois

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois 1868 – 1963

W.E.B. Du Bois is a well known sociologist, historian, and activist, but did you know that in the age before computers, he created hand-drawn infographics to illustrate his data findings? His work “The Georgia Negro: A Study” included over 60 hand-drawn charts, graphs, and maps to illustrate data collected on Black American’s lives during that time.

His paper “The Philadelphia Negro” was one of the earliest examples of statistical analyses in sociology and among his many accomplishments, he was awarded the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal.

Du Bois continued his work until his final days, taking on an international project in Ghana at the age of 93.

Why diversity & inclusion matters at Flatiron School 

Like these Black innovators in data science history, we believe that any individual who is willing to work hard should have access to life-changing career courses, no matter their background. 

At Flatiron School, diversity and inclusion matters because we believe that, in tech, meaningful things are created when people from diverse backgrounds work together.

If you’re interested in a career in data science, try a free data science lesson — it’s the first step towards your new career in tech and more opportunities to build your future.