Inaugural HUE Tech Summit Created For Women Of Color Technologists

Ebony Grimsley-Vaz
Written by Ebony Grimsley-Vaz

Philly Tech Week will be held for the eighth year running from April 27 to May 5, 2018, but it has something new this year. It will include the first-ever HUE Tech Summit — a summit within a summit — bringing sessions created for women of color in tech.

HUE Tech Summit is the brainchild of Jumoke Dada, Nigerian-American who founded the event to educate, elevate and empower women-of-color technologists and founders in the Delaware Valley and beyond. The theme of the summit is No More Hidden Figures. Women who work behind the scenes are encouraged to come to the forefront.

Her efforts have attracted talent that in the past may not have been interested in what Philly Tech Week had to offer, Dada said in a Moguldom interview:

“Being a part of the week has helped us gain visibility to not forget about the achievements by women of color in tech, in a quicker time and on a larger scale.”

The first conference of its kind in the Delaware Valley (Delaware, Pennsylvania, and South New Jersey region), HUE Tech Summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 4 at the Hussian College in Philadelphia.

Jumoke Dada. Photo: Twitter

The HUE Tech Summit is sponsored in part by Samsung NEXT and powered by the Tech Women Network, an online social media platform founded by Dada.

Dada was raised in Brooklyn, NY, and began her studies at age 16 at Temple University.

At graduation, she was the only African American woman to complete the computer and information sciences program from the School of Science & Technology at Temple University. Dada understands the importance of diversity and inclusion in the industry.

She and a team of professionals supporting HUE Tech intend to shine a light on the theme of the summit — No More Hidden Figures — by shining it on some of the area’s top talent.

Valeisha Butterfield Jones, global head of women’s and Black engagement at Google and speaker at HUE Tech Summit. Photo: livecivil

This year’s list of more than 40 speakers represents talented women of color including Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, the global head of women’s and Black engagement at Google. Butterfield-Jones is the co-founder and CEO of Women’s Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). Another speaker is Sandra K. Johnson, Ph.D., founder of SKJ Visoneering. The former chief technical officer at IBM, Johnson has more than 40 patents pending.

Sandra K. Johnson. Photo: BlackComputeHer

A creator, technologist, and leader in her community, Dada has attracted media attention for her professional and community work.

Moguldom talked to Dada about creating inspiration for her community and how tech summits can be more inclusive.

Moguldom: How did the idea of HUE Tech Summit come to you?

Dada: I have been in technology for a long time as an application developer, systems analyst, and consultant. Last year I was speaking at a women’s event and had just launched the Tech Women Network, which is online platform specifically for women with technical skills. It could be considered the LinkedIn for women in tech. I noticed a lot of the woman that were signing up were very diverse. I started thinking about how many conferences are heavily focused on startup companies and were overlooking technologists. I realized that it would be beneficial to hold something for women of color and so as a result, I began to develop the HUE Tech Summit.

Moguldom: Why in Philadelphia?

Dada: I decided to host the event in my area because many of us must travel New York, D.C. or go to the West Coast to find a tech conference. I realized that the Philadelphia-Delaware-New Jersey area is often overlooked for tech events.

Moguldom: What has it been like starting this endeavor?

Dada: It has been hard work to pull this together in a short amount of time. I had a smaller event, an HUE Tech Talk, which was a dinner and fireside chat. About 50 women came out, and we did not have a chance to dive into many topics, which is why it will now be a full day. However, I did not begin the focused planning of the Summit until the end of January.

Moguldom: How has the response been?

Dada: Great. A lot of work has gone into this, so it is amazing and encouraging to see the response. We had an open call for speakers for two to three weeks, and we received tons of proposals for speaking at the summit. Every day our registration numbers are increasing. It is possible we may sell out.

Moguldom: Can you look beyond this year’s event and say the HUE Tech Summit will be around in five years, 10 years?

Dada: Although we are less than a month out from the event, I wholeheartedly believe that we will only continue to grow and make the event better each year.

Moguldom: Your event is adding a significant amount of diversity to the lineup at Philly Tech Week. What has it been like partnering with Philly Tech Week?

Dada: It has been great. We have been able to bring a more significantly diverse response to the week of activities. More talent that hasn’t had an interest in the past is looking at what Philly Tech Week has to offer. Plus, being a part of the week has helped us gain visibility to not forget about the achievements by women of color in tech, in a quicker time and on a larger scale. Our venue and one of our sponsors came from the relationship we formed with Philly Tech Week.

Moguldom: So, for other tech event organizers that might be looking to expand their audience and become more inclusive, what advice would you give to them?

Dada: Leverage someone that is out there doing the work regarding diversity and inclusion. Look for people with a strong network and find ways to collaborate with them. Come together on mutual goals and objectives to amplify success for your area and the entire tech industry.

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