Women in STEM - Jennifer Opal
According to an article posted by People of Color in Tech, “...a national report put the percentage of Black women in computing in 2018 at 3% — and this statistic does not make a distinction between technical and nontechnical women in computing. Of the overall U.S. population, roughly 4.5% identify as LGBT. Since it’s incredibly hard to find industry-wide statistics on LGBT folks in tech, let’s take an extremely optimistic view and assume 4.5% of people in computing are LGBT. Combining these two percentages tells us that .00135% of the computing workforce identifies as Black, queer, and female.”
One of the .00135% is Jennifer Opal. Jennifer is a DevOps Engineer for HelloSign at Dropbox, an award-winning inclusion advocate, and she also identifies as a queer woman.
Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but raised in West London, Jennifer struggled with reading as a child, but was not diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD until she was an adult. After embracing these new diagnoses, Jennifer came out as Queer in late 2021. Though it was scary, she says it was also the most liberating thing she’s ever done in her life.
Being both Queer and Neurodivergent, Jennifer has become a very vocal and successful advocate for many others who are navigating some of the same pathways into technology and acceptance. In addition to her public speaking and advocacy presentations, Jennifer also serves as a Board Member of “Neurodiversity in Business,” which is an industry group providing opportunity for people to learn the importance of inclusion and best practices for the hiring and retaining of neurodivergent people.
Jennifer was recently named as a “Rising Star” at the Black Tech Achievement Awards in 2020 and one of the “Most Influential Women in Tech in the UK” by Computer Weekly. She is known for her passionate encouragement of women to embrace their unique offerings and find their place within the field of technology.
If you’d like to learn even more about Jennifer, check out this interview with Code First Girls:
And you can also watch her presentation about "The Importance of Allies" at DevLab: