Women of color in tech are challenged by under-representation, gender-stereotyping, and racial biases in an industry notorious for its lack of diversity. They’re doing amazing work, but often do not receive nearly as much recognition as their white, male counterparts.
Women of color in tech aren’t going anywhere, and it’s time for people in and outside of the tech industry to support their work. They’re making waves in app development, catering for both wide and niche audiences through unique platforms. Many are also using their experiences as women of color to fuel their work.
1. Cocoa Swatches
Many beauty brands lack products that fit diverse complexions. People often buy beauty products only to later realize that it looks completely different to their true skin tone. Beauty guru Ofunne Amaka wanted to fix this problem with Cocoa Swatches, a platform that lets users see makeup products on different skin tones.
Users can search for makeup swatches demonstrated through photos and videos to compare and contrast how lipsticks, foundations, and eye shadows look on different complexions. Cocoa Swatches is empowering people of color with underrepresented complexions.
Thurst was created by Morgen Bromell as a response to the marginalization of queer people of color on mainstream dating apps. Bromell found that queer people of color lacked a space in online dating to authentically represent themselves, and wanted to change that. Thurst is the first app of its kind to cater to people of color of all genders and sexualities, creating a safe space to foster sincere connections between users.
Thurst has many of the basic features of a standard dating app, from matching and messaging, to blocking and user reporting. To Bromell, Thurst is not only an app—it’s also meant to be a platform for cultural change and community building.
Stephanie Lopez, Amanda Arellano, Chloe Westphal, Genesis Saucedo and Marina Stepanov teamed up to create Safe&Sound, the winning app for the Verizon Foundation’s Innovative App Challenge, a competition that encourages student interest in STEM. Motivated by their own mental health struggles and those of their peers, Safe&Sound lets teens manage their symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression through innovative resources like breathing exercises, affirmative quotes, and journaling.
The app also allows you to create a virtual support system by networking with friends, family or others experiencing similar symptoms, and also lists hotlines to call or text if you’re in need of immediate assistance or support.
4. On Second Thought
Have ever sent a text message you regretted? On Second Thought has you covered. Co-founded by Maci Peterson, On Second Thought’s technology lets you delay messages for up to 60 seconds to change your mind if you want to take a message back. For those planning to have a night out, an additional ‘Curfew’ feature allows the user to hold their messages until they’re ready to review them. So no more drunk texting your ex!
Since its creation, the app has placed first in the Women Who Tech Startup Challenge and IMA Startup Battlefield.
5. Hair Journey by Myavana
Myavana is the first hair care recommendation system for people of color. Candace Mitchell, Jessica Watson, Chanel Martin and Joy Boulamwini created the platform to transform the hair industry through science, technology, and holistic hair education.
To start, users receive a hair analysis kit in the mail to send in their hair strands to the Myavana lab. Based on personalized results from a hair analysis test, you’ll get a hair profile and recommendations through the app on products, ingredients, and regimens that work best for your hair type, texture and health. The app will even recommend local salons that can cater your needs.