Diana Wilson - Ghanaian and American
Founder and lead servant at Black Sisters in STEM
Diana Wilson was recognized as the 'Next Black Female Mark Zuckerberg' & “Female Innovator of The Year” (2021) via Face2Face Africa and Africa Tech Festival. She has gone viral for her achievements via MTV and LinkedIn.
WiredUp had a Q & A interview session with Diana Wilson, founder and lead servant at Black Sisters in STEM
Who is Diana Wilson? What is your background?
Diana Wilson is a vibrant, articulate, and highly successful 26-year-old social entrepreneur, storyteller, marketing strategist at Google, professional development coach, activist and global speaker. As the founder and lead servant at Black Sisters in STEM (Black SiS), she is on a mission to build the LinkedIn for black college women in STEM across the diaspora. Through Black Sisters in STEM, Diana is preparing the next generation of black female leaders with culture competency, technical skill sets and inclusive leadership skills to meet the demands of the emergent workforce. Black SiS built an ecosystem composed of 4 000 women in 16 countries, with a 90% job placement rate.
She graduated from the University of Virginia with a dual bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women Gender Studies, with $0 in student loans/debt! She earned more than $500 000 in scholarships, including a full scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholarship. She is also the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Forbes 30 Under 30 Scholar Award, Future of Ghana 30 Under 30 Award, McKinsey's Women's Impact Award, and Africa Tech Festival’s 2021 Female Innovator of the Year.
Diana was a first-generation, low-income student in college who dropped out of college initially because she was struggling and alone. However, a community of black women lifted her up and supported her to secure prestigious internships and finally land at Google. She is the product of a diligent single mother, prayer and a constructive community in Newark, NJ.
As the founder and lead servant at Black Sisters in STEM, who is on a mission to build the LinkedIn for black college women in STEM across the diaspora: Why is this your mission?
Forty per cent of black college students switch out of STEM majors because they don’t believe they can actually finish these degrees. Nearly 50% of black women in STEM majors drop out by their senior year. We are building the LinkedIn for black women in STEM because these brilliant women have been underestimated. Our platform would serve as a safe space where they can harness their skills, reach their highest potential, and manifest their career dreams.
So far, Black SiS has built an ecosystem composed of 4 000 women in 16 countries, with a 90% job placement rate.
It is the fourth anniversary of Black Sisters in STEM. What are the new things to be expected?
Our all-new, web-based, tech-enabled platform reimagines our initial offerings of culture competency, technical skill sets, and inclusive leadership skills at scale. We will build networks that empower us to lift each other up; deliver culturally relevant professional content designed specifically for black women; and curate career opportunities in partnership with tech companies.
In this fourth anniversary year, we are scaling our impact to all black women globally, and increasing opportunities and developmental programmes for our fellows.
Being someone who is passionate about STEM, what challenges have you faced being in the field, and how have you overcome some of these challenges?
As a first-generation Ghanaian-American college student, I graduated from the University of Virginia with a dual bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women Gender Studies, with $0 in student loans/debt! I earned more than $500 000 in scholarships, including a full scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Coca-Cola Scholarship. However, I dropped out of school initially because I was struggling, I was alone, and I didn’t have a community to help lift me up. I overcame this challenge because a group of black women found me, supported me, and lifted me up. It is because of this challenge that I believe so much in the work that Black SiS is doing for black college women in STEM.
How do you think we can start to get more young Africans into the field of STEM?
I think we can start by providing them with a community where they can thrive with like-minded sisters. Black women should be encouraged to learn from one another and grow together. That’s what communities such as Black SiS are for. We don’t only provide a network of black women where they only learn from one another; we also provide access to learning opportunities through free online courses, boot camps and internships so our fellows can build in-demand skills and be ready for the world of work.
What achievement are you most proud of?
My greatest achievement has been starting Black Sisters in STEM. Throughout my life, I’ve witnessed images of vulnerable people without economic security or power. Seeing these frames repeatedly built out a museum of degradation that was both scarring and empowering for me. My experiences as a Ghanaian-American, a dark-skinned woman, rape survivor, from a low socioeconomic background, have sparked my interest in problem solving. I constantly feel confronted with the question, “What to do next?” How can young women envision a better future? Black SiS is the catalyst that black college women and this world need in order to effectively build up generations of women equipped with the mindset and the skill set to change this world. A storm is brewing and the revolution is coming.
What is your message to upcoming young Africans who are passionate about STEM?
Take a bold step, imagine the future you want for yourself, and seek communities that would help you get there. There are endless opportunities for you as a black woman in STEM, don’t be discouraged by the words of bystanders that ‘STEM is a man’s field’. If you want to build a career in STEM, go for it, study hard, build capacity and skills outside of school and join communities such as Black SiS that would support your growth. Your success is inevitable. Go for it!