At the T.D. Jakes Foundation, we want to amplify proven programs, not recreate the wheel. As part of our Take Five blog series, we’re asking business and nonprofit leaders to answer five questions about their work and what we can all do to bring greater diversity, inclusion and gender equity to STEAM fields.
This week, we meet Patrick Cohen, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, NPower Inc.
- What are you doing to create greater diversity and gender inclusion in STEAM fields?
NPower creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. The majority of our young adult students are black and Latinx and enter our program unemployed and underemployed. Our objective is to provide technical, professional and social support in order to prepare and place them in technology positions.
Two years ago, we launched the Advancing Young Women of Color in Tech initiative to increase the representation of young women in our programs and instructional staff to 40%. We are releasing a culmination paper which shares our findings and recommendations for the field on the best practices in recruiting, retaining and advancing young women of color in the tech field. In addition, we are launching a Coalition comprised of several corporations, nonprofits, and community organizations which will help to propel a movement to address the glaring inequity of the lack of women of color in tech.
- What is the biggest obstacle preventing women and people of color from being fully represented in STEAM careers?
The biggest obstacle is the lack of exposure to careers in STEAM, direction and access to role models and mentors in the industry. If young women and people of color are exposed and guided on ways to enter the STEAM field at a young age, they would be more inclined to pursue a career in the industry. Also, if women feel welcomed and empowered, they are more likely to remain and advance in STEAM.
- What’s one small step each of us can take to promote equality?
We all can mentor individuals and advocate that our companies alter their hiring practices and create internship. apprenticeship and hiring opportunities for young women and people of color.
- Who is one your biggest role models and why?
My primary role model is my father because he inspired me with his work ethic, humility and love for his family and the community. He came from humble beginnings and practically raised himself and his siblings in St. Mary, Jamaica. He had a commendable career as an educator, attained his doctorate and successfully raised me and my two siblings. He also co-founded a nonprofit which provides educational materials for the less fortunate in Jamaica and college scholarships for high achieving high school graduates in Miami. His work as an educator and in the community inspired me to help transform the lives of thousands of individuals from underserved communities.
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I wanted to become a doctor but quickly changed my mind when I was exposed to blood. I then decided I wanted to own my own business and later became a real estate developer. After pursuing careers in finance and real estate, I ended up finding my other calling in the field of training and placing diverse candidates in STEAM.
If you’re interested in answering our Take Five, send us an email here.
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