Women of color account for roughly 18 percent of the U.S. population, but less than 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees earned in computing, and less than 6 percent of tech leadership positions in Silicon Valley. But change is coming! And one woman in STEM leading the charge is Software Engineer Kamilah Taylor.
Taylor was born in Kingston, Jamaica. When she was 10, her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia. She took a robotics class in high school and performed so well that the teacher recommended her for a competition at Georgia Tech. She decided to take an AP Computer Science class the next year, but nearly decided against the field because of a few boys in her class. Thankfully, she didn’t let that experience stop her.
Taylor moved back to Jamaica and completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics at the University of the West Indies at Mona in 2007. She completed her master’s in computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010, where she worked in the Artificial Intelligence Lab.
After graduating, Taylor accepted a position as a software engineer at Wolfram Research, where she worked on the Connected Devices project and the Wolfram Programming Cloud. Two years later, she moved to LinkedIn, becoming a senior software engineer in 2015. She worked on and lead several projects for the company, including their flagship iOS app, Project Voyager, and the LinkedIn Learning app.
She left LinkedIn in 2017 and spent three months as an engineer in residence at Hustle in San Francisco. That same year, she joined SWAAY, a digital publication merging glamour and business, as a co-founder and senior engineer. She also started Tech Beach Retreat, an international tech summit hosted in Jamaica. In April 2018, she joined the team at Krikey, where she continues to work as a senior iOS consultant.
In addition to her extensive and ongoing tech career, Taylor also works to change the field for other women and people of color. In 2012, she worked with Iridescent, a non-profit organization, to mentor a team of high school girls designing an Android app inventor. Her team placed in the top 20 out of 115 submissions worldwide. That same year, she started mentoring and serving as a teaching assistant for Black Girls Code. In 2015, she became the software engineering advisor for The Palisadoes Foundation, which offers stipends to Jamaican students pursuing STEM careers. In 2016, she became an A* member with the non-profit organization /dev/color, a community of black software engineers.
Taylor has given multiple talks about her experiences, including giving the opening keynote at the 2018 Tech Superwomen Summit and serving on the Engineering for Tomorrow panel at Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016. She was also named one of the 43 Most Powerful Female Engineers of 2017 by Business Insider, and one of the “40 Under 40: Tech Diversity –
Silicon Valley” in 2016. She also contributed to the book “Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories.”
Taylor’s advice to women considering Software Engineering is, “Never stop learning. It doesn’t matter what direction you want to take your career in, there is always more to learn, and that’s what keeps me motivated.”
Are you interested in empowering women in the STEM fields? The Women in Science (Wi-Sci) group wants you! Email President Lauren Higgins (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.