Diversity Advocate Erica Baker Joins the Kickstarter Team
After two years with Slack Technologies, Erica Baker has decided to take the Director of Engineering position at Kickstarter. Baker has unequivocally become the voice for diversity inclusion in the technology industry. At Kickstarter, she will be running her own team and working in an engineering organization run by a woman, her career first.
“When I joined Slack, I had the opportunity to both grow myself and create the Build and Release team and infrastructure. I also helped grow and shape Slack’s thinking on Diversity and Inclusion. I was a leader both in the company and outside the company, and wanted my growth path to keep heading in a leadership direction” wrote Baker in a Medium post announcing her decision to move.
In her new role, Baker will continue to focus her time on diversity inclusion and diversity in tech. According to Kickstarter their demographics are close to many other tech companies with a makeup comprised of 70 percent white and 2 percent African-American. Although the demographics are similar to other tech companies, more than half of Kickstarter’s executive team is comprised of women.
Both Slack and Kickstarter tech leaders, Stewart Butterfield and Yancey Strickler have helped her career and advocacy efforts as they “don’t believe that we have to be in an industry run by all white men”, said Baker.
At the age of 12, Baker starting playing with computers and taught herself how to take things apart to see how they worked. Years later, she was sought after by Google then Slack and now Kickstarter. Outspoken and unafraid to stand up to the status quo, her favorite quote is “Question Authority.” In fact, she did just that while working for Google, as she repeatedly asked the company for its workforce demographics and circulated a spreadsheet of salaries to help employees challenge pay disparities.
She hopes that others are able to step up and do the same thing by looking “around in your organization and see who you can promote and raise up to the level of engineering leadership. Because there is definitely somebody in every company. And if there’s a black woman in engineering at a company, almost certainly she could be a leader if that’s what she wants.”
Baker is one of the few African-American women technologists who is shattering the glass ceiling in tech. She’s accomplished this by opening doors and speaking out about the industry’s responsibility to tear down barriers. Now a woman on a mission with a distinct message, Baker states “any black woman who wants to be in engineering management should get the support mentorship and sponsorship to do that” and that she “is going to do everything I can to make it so.”
Baker will officially start her work in early August.
Armed with a mission to help bring creative projects to life, Kickstarter helps artists, designers, filmmakers, and other various creators find the resources they need to make their ideas a reality. Projects, both large and small have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter crowdfunding community. Kickstarter has had over 10 million people, from every continent on earth, back a Kickstarter project
Erica Baker 2016 keynote for IIS, the internet foundation for Sweden.
Original Source: USA Today