5 Questions with Diana “Nyamekye” Wilson, CEO of Black Sisters in STEM

Oct 17, 2022

Diana "Nyamekye" Wilson, Founder & CEO of Black Sisters in STEM, is a highly successful 26-year-old social entrepreneur, former Googler, activist, and global speaker. She is the product of a diligent single mother, prayer, and a constructive community of Newark, NJ. Nyamekye is on a mission to unleash the global brilliance of Black women in STEM. To this aim, she is building the largest talent marketplace of Black college women in STEM globally. From Lagos, Nigeria to Atlanta, Georgia, Nyamekye is building a community that the world has never seen.

Powered by AI, their platform improves the hireability of Black women through live projects, mentorship, and learning communities at scale. Under Nyamekye’s leadership, Black SiS built an ecosystem composed of ~7k women in 24 countries with representation from 12 African countries. All in just four short years. She is a proud alumnus of the University of Virginia. Achievement is in Diana Nyamekye’s DNA! 

01. What is the elevator pitch for your organization?

Black Sisters in STEM is on a mission to unleash the global brilliance of Black women in STEM. To do this, we are building the largest globally distributed network of Black college women in STEM careers through portfolio building, meaningful mentorship, and access to opportunities at scale. In short, help Black college women breaking into STEM careers share, learn, and get hired. We have the potential to not only be the largest talent network and a skills database of Black women in STEM globally. 

02. How does your organization create a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Almost 50% of all Black women who decide to major in STEM drop out by their sophomore year. This prevailing trend leads to Black women being severely underrepresented in STEM careers (2%). A statistic that has been stagnant for decades. Black Women represent the largest unserved market and the largest disruptive force in business. We prepare them with the technical skill set, inclusive leadership skills, and cultural competency to meet the demands of the emergent workforce. 

Yet research has shown it’s not due to a lack of desire, or capacity, but a lack of support throughout the development pipeline. The fastest way to accelerate, change and effectively begin to address the racial wealth gap is to invest in Black women. To this aim, equitable upskilling is one of the most effective ways to speed up the economy and obtain qualified pools of talent. In today’s world, organizations must build alternative talent recruitment models to meet these challenges. 

Without investment, so many opportunities will be missed. That’s where we come in. Irrespective of current events, learning is the source of human progress. We believe that true transformation begins in the mind. Thus we empower Black college women everywhere to transform their lives through learning. If we can unlock the potential of young Black women, we believe we can move the entire world forward. 

03. How will support from the Techstars Foundation and the Techstars network further the mission of your organization?

I believe access to the incomparable Techstars network will grant me access to critical capital, knowledge, and continuous learning opportunities. After going through the Fast Forward Accelerator, I have a greater appreciation of the power of community. The ability to solve problems and thrive by forming mutually trusting, engaged relationships and networks cannot be quantified. 

Additionally, our organization deploys a unique model that addresses the intersection of race, class, gender, and poverty our fellows undertake daily. Thus, we have promised to subsidize the cost for every Black woman to partake in our programs. However, this cost is constantly increasing as we gain so many new members. This grant will help us counter some of these costs.

04. How did you come to do this work and why is it important to you personally?

At the age of 21, I had a view of the conceptual reality of my purpose. It is not a coincidence that I received it so young. Throughout history, factors such as, but not limited to, discrimination, racism, sexism, colonization, and gender-based violence have deprived​​ Black women across the diaspora on virtually every scale of human progress. My beautiful and intricately entwined identity and the oppression that it undertakes, allow me to craft a new frame of what freedom can and should look like. It was the very limitations of my existence, being raised by a single mother, being a first-generation Ghanaian American, being a low-income student, and being a rape survivor that allowed me to perceive and identify with my purpose. Every setback formulated an environment that obligated me to learn new and inventive ways to thrive. My trauma became a seed for the vision of this revolution. 

05. Tell us the story of a Black woman you are proud to have supported

Getting college students into tech will provide financial security and influence to build the tech that powers our lives. Especially in developing nations where universities cannot accept the growing youth population. For those who finally get in, there comes an inevitable moment of realization that your classes don’t prepare you for the workforce. Higher education is failing its people and their growth potential. This was my story. It was also the story of Elizabeth Obisesan that exemplifies how we create this reality. Elizabeth was always a brilliant girl, finishing high school at the age of 13. Knowing this, her family invested their savings into sending her to university in Ghana to help manifest her dreams to be a software engineer and elevate the entire family. Though she graduated as valedictorian, her lack of practical skills and social capital left her jobless. In our initial MVP, we delivered projects, mentors, and professional development content to shift her story. Within months of joining us, she earned 15 offers and is currently a software engineer at Microsoft. We are building the platform for this to happen at scale.

Black SiS is a participant in the Accelerate Equity program of the Techstars Foundation in 2022.

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