2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Black Women in Tech: Uncovering Barriers to Entry

#sxsw #techladies

Though the numbers are on the rise, the discrepancy in the amount of Black women in the tech startup space as compared to their general market counterparts is alarming. According to 2012 figures, African American women held just 3% of all tech jobs. What is more disconcerting, women in tech make up 5% of the founders and CEOs of tech startups. The panel will uncover the overwhelming barriers to entry for Black women in tech, including: access to funding, technological hurdles, and a need for impactful mentorship, through the experiences and expertise of these panelists.

Panelists: Marissa Jennings, Founder of SOCIALgrlz, a mobile web publishing company for girls and her Lead Developer Aaron Saunders; Sonia Alleyne, Editorial Director at Black Enterprise Magazine and Co-editorial Director, Women of Power Conference; Stacey Ferguson, co-Founder and Chief Curator of the Blogalicious community and conferences celebrating diversity in social media; and an expert in entrepreneurship.



Aaron Saunders


Clearly Innovate Inc

Clearly Innovative is a mobile-solutions provider with corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. Aaron and his team take a cross-platform approach to mobile software development. We are mobile first full-stack javascript development company providing solutions for enterprise clients and startups.

Clearly Innovative boasts an impressive portfolio, and has partnered with or developed mobile applications for many reputable companies, including:

• Queens Borough Public Library on mobile application and tablet initiatives to reenergize a library patron's user experience.
• DC Health Exchange mobile application for access to information when you need it
• SubAid Mobile Health application for clinical trial to track adherence behaviors
• National Military Family Association—“MyMilitaryLife” application for iPhone and Android, which has been featured on FoxNews, NBC, and other media outlets for its ease of use by military families;
• The NAACP 2013 National Convention & NAACP 2014 Image Awards
• BigStuf – the nondenominational national nonprofit, Youth Resources Ministries;
• Valpark—the cash-free mobile payment, retrieval and management application for valets, garages and parking services nationwide; and

On a local level, Aaron supports various competitions and youth programs which encourage the education of the next generation of tech leaders ; through Clearly Innovative or on his own, Aaron has participated in

• The planning and execution of a mobile app education model for Howard
University’s Math and Science Middle School Clearly Mobile Innovators
• Clearly Innovative sponsored EDAC's #BizTechKids14 at Morgan State
• Aaron acted as a judge and mentor at Black Founders Hackathon at Howard
• He has presented at Technical Confererences MoDev & Appcelerator

For those interested in reading Aaron’s other material, check-out his blog at www.blog.clearlyinnovative.com.


Marissa Jennings



Ms. Jennings is an agent for change. She has more than seven years of experience working in the private and public sector as a project manager and public affairs specialist where she has handled federal government relations, national media campaigns and community outreach projects. Additionally, she has demonstrated experience in program and policy management with national nonprofits. As a result of her experiences, Ms. Jennings has become even more committed to fulfilling her passion and life mission – to improve and provide positive differences in everyone’s life – especially those in poverty and living in urban communities. She has worked with various national girls organizations including Girls Inc., Girl Scouts of America and the BET Foundation, where she organized youth camps as well as coordinated and spurred initiatives to educate girls on healthy lifestyles. Ms. Jennings also served as the publicist for the book “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write To The New First Lady.” She not only possesses the expertise but also has a proven track record in developing financial budgets, fundraising, program development and implementation, and working successfully with high-level, well-established executives. Ms. Jennings, a graduate of Bennett College for Women, is a visionary leader with the ability to maximize resources, exceed organizational goals and objectives and mobilize youth. Ms. Jennings also received her Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University.


Stacey Ferguson



Stacey (known online as Justice Fergie) is an avid veteran blogger, event producer, social media personality, public speaker, freelance writer, and Chief Curator of the Be Blogalicious community and conferences celebrating diversity among women in social media. As Founder of Justice Fergie Lifestyle Media, she combines media, publishing, consulting & events to inspire women to live richly with strategies for turning personal passions into viable brands. She is also a tech attorney by trade and regularly consults with both startups and established brands on digital and brand strategy. Stacey is a wife, and mother of 3 and resides in the DC Metro Area.

Xina Eiland



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