Woman in STEM: Tiffany Gamble

Nebraska Women in STEM talked to Tiffany Gamble about her passion to bring more black women to STEM and her work in the tech industry.

One night in 2017, social scientist Tiffany Gamble woke up from an eye-opening dream. “The dream was about the disparities of our tech skills in the black community and the future and how we were just [going to] be blocked out and how we were going to be very impoverished, and it scared me,” explained Gamble. “It woke me up.”

She continued with day-to-day life, but the dream hovered in the back of her mind. Then a few days after the dream occurred, Gamble watched the movie Hidden Figures, which showed her how black women were computer processors for NASA, and she started to wonder why there weren’t more black women working for NASA today.

“I’m a researcher by nature, so I started researching and I saw the disparities in that black women represent less than 1 percent of the tech industry. It is my passion now to bring more black women into STEM and close that diversity gap.”

After a master’s degree in organizational leadership and a 20-year career in social science, Gamble made the decision to enter the tech field. She created and runs two tech organizations: Emerging Ladies Academy (ELA) and Gamble Tech Firm. 

ELA is a nonprofit that empowers black girls in technology through community workshops and afterschool programing. The ELA Tech Academy serves girls 10-18 and its afterschool programming ranges from kindergarten to high school.

Gamble Tech Firm globally empowers future black technologists through community workshops and trainings. It helps to onboard adults into the tech pipeline and provide youth involved institutions with tech training and tech workshops. Its reach expands all the way to Accra, Ghana West Africa where it has an office and growing programing. 

Making such a big career pivot wasn’t easy. Gamble didn’t have a mentor advising her as she started her organizations. “I’ve had to learn about myself along the way, what it takes to be a leader, how to be vulnerable, how to ask for help, really doing soul searching work.  It has been very challenging.”

She also realized that if she was going to educate black women and girls about becoming technologists, she should be a role model and pursue tech training and certifications herself. “I have to walk that talk so I went back to school,” said Gamble.

Gamble is now a Certified Scum Master.  As Gamble pursues Business Analyst and Project Management Professional certifications, she is fueled by the dream that started her down this path and the importance of increasing the number of black women in technology. Gamble says when you make technology without diverse perspectives, it creates biases in how the technology functions. She says it is critical that businesses create diverse opportunities in their culture and work on disparities, like pay gaps and biases, in hiring practices.

Gamble loves sharing her passion and experience with young women to help them succeed. “The biggest barrier is mindset. If you don’t think you can do it, if you don’t see anyone doing it, then you can’t see yourself in that position. I tell my girls, ‘you may be the only one in your department or company that’s a black women. You have to know who you are and you have to know there were thousands of women before you and that it’s in your DNA.’”

Gamble has advice for all women pursuing careers in STEM. “Don’t quit. Have the courage to go outside of your comfort zone and understand that you belong there. You are more powerful than you know.”