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Forging Ahead: The Inspiring Black Women Who Paved My Tech Journey

Forging Ahead: The Inspiring Black Women Who Paved My Tech Journey

In honor of Black History Month in the United Kingdom, I’d like to share a story of bravery, resilience, and unflinching determination. It’s the narrative of extraordinary black women who, against all odds, dared to journey into unexplored territory, often as the first or only representatives of their race.

These incredible ladies have been and will continue to be my guiding lights on my journey into the realm of technology. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced barriers and hurdles, but it’s the stories of these trailblazers that have motivated my desire to pursue a career in technology.

Let’s start with the legendary Katherine Johnson.

She was a bright mathematician and physicist whose calculations helped NASA’s early flights launch astronauts into space. Katherine’s daring in breaking into a male-dominated sector and excelling above all expectations has always stood as a beacon of hope.

Her narrative shows that when we refuse to be bound by convention, we can accomplish greatness.

Following that, we honor Mae C. Jemison, the first African American woman to travel into space.

Mae’s journey to the stars exemplifies the idea that the sky is not our boundary, but rather our launching pad. Her bravery in exploring the cosmos serves as a powerful reminder that we, too, may shoot for the stars — both metaphorically and literally — in our chosen undertakings.

The inspiration trail does not end there. Ursula Burns, a remarkable success story, was the first black woman to run a Fortune 500 firm as CEO of Xerox.

Her rise from humble origins to the summit of corporate America proves that determination and hard work can overcome any challenge. Ursula’s ascension tells us that greatness knows no limitations.

Last but not least, we salute Dr. Shirley Jackson, the first African American woman to receive a PhD from MIT and later become president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Jackson’s incredible career demonstrates that we may not only excel, but also shape the future through academia.

These women are more than just role models; they are sources of strength and hope. They serve as a reminder that Black women have a strong presence in the fields of technology, research, and innovation. Their stories encourage us to be brave, to persevere, and to forge forth into unexplored territory with tenacity.

As we traverse the ever-changing terrain of technology, let us channel Katherine Johnson’s tenacity, Mae Jemison’s audacity, Ursula Burns’ greatness, and Shirley Jackson’s brilliance. Let their stories serve as a compass, guiding us through unfamiliar waters, tearing down boundaries, and paving the road for those who will come after us.

According to Michelle Obama, “success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” Let us make a difference, let us rise above, and let us leave a legacy that continues to inspire generations to come.


Cecilia Harvey is an award-winning tech founder, author, and entrepreneur. Cecilia is the founder of Tech Women Today, the global digital platform to showcase women in technology, and a resource for non-technical female entrepreneurs who want to understand how to leverage technology to grow and scale their businesses.