Erica Joy Baker [Day 23] #BlacksInnovatorsinTech

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Baker started playing with computers when she was 12. Self taught, she loved taking things apart to see how they ticked. That analytical drive isn’t the only thing that made her an engineer recruited by Google and now by Slack. She also refuses to adhere to the status quo. As a kid, she wore a jeans jacket covered in buttons. Her favorite: Question Authority.

At Google, she did just that, repeatedly asking for the company’s diversity numbers only “to get shot down all the time.” She also rallied her colleagues to create a spreadsheet of their salaries which she says exposed some inequity issues.

Now she is addressing a much larger audience. Baker is making a name for herself by saying very publicly what people of color typically don’t dare for fear of losing their positions in the industry. In consciousness-raising essays on Medium and in a steady stream of pointed comments on Twitter, she calls out the tech industry for only focusing diversity efforts on women to the detriment of people of color.

With the blessing of Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Baker spends 20% of her time on advocating for women and men of color and working to improve their lives in the tech world.

“I see as my duty to hold companies accountable until stuff gets better,” she says. “I am trying to keep moving the needle, to make sure the stuff that we didn’t talk about, the stuff that gets brushed under the rug, gets discussed and gets solved.”

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