#Coding Icon: Kaya Thomas
#CodingIcon is a mini-series from Jewelbots highlighting the amazing women building the things we use everyday.
It's been said before, and we will say it again: It's hard to be what you can't see. Luckily though, with Coding Icons like Kaya Thomas, nothing is impossible! With her incredible efforts, more visibility is being brought to women and people of color through the power of code.
Kaya is a full time iOS engineer at Slack, where she works on the Messaging team for notifications and accessibility. Before this, Kaya was a student at Dartmouth College studying for her Computer Science degree. During this time, she started learning iOS development through a software engineering internship at Time Inc, Intuit and Apple. Taking advantage of this, she soon after launched her We Read Too app in 2014.
We Read Too is an amazing app that highlights books which celebrates Black, Latinx, Native and Asian authors. Growing up, Kaya noticed there was a lack of representation in literature for kids of color. And so, We Read Too has given diverse literature the spotlight it deserves as educators, librarians, and others in the community can remind youth of color that their stories matter too.
Along with being a book-loving programmer superhero, Kaya is also a proud advocate for representation of women in computer science. She has written in TechCrunch, Fusion, and Medium about how diversity in tech exists and companies need to realize that. Kaya shares her honest opinions as she writes things like, “I wish that tech leaders would just be honest and admit that they’ve made tech culture so exclusive and toxic” in her Medium article response to the Wall Street Journal. For her work in technology and education she was awarded and recognized by Black Girls Rock!, The Root, and Glamour Magazine.
Name: Kaya Thomas
Fun Fact: Michelle Obama honored Kaya for her education advocacy with the We Read Too app!
One of my first role models in tech was Kimberly Bryant the founder of Black Girls Code. I watched her TED talk in 2013 and it inspired me to start learning how to code and study computer science.