If you want to be in step with a career that will be dominated for decades by high-paying positions, technology could be the field for you. the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings in the United States.

Young women can potentially fill this gap, yet at current rates we can only fill about 30 percent of these posts with U.S. computing graduates, according to Girls in IT: The Facts, a report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology. While the computer industry is one of the fastest-growing in the United States, there’s still a dearth of African-American women in the science, technology, engineering and math professions (also known as stem). “This absence cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields,” says Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code in san Francisco. “Lack of access and exposure to stem topics are likelier culprits.” Here ESSENCE introduces you to the people, programs and employment options that should be on your radar.

The Coding Trailblazer:

Kimberly Bryant, 47, Founder, Black Girls Code, San Francisco

Bryant, who established Black Girls Code in 2011, says her organization is the only one specifically targeting girls of color, teaching them computer programming and providing mentors. “Having that technology skill in their tool kit will give them access to many more opportunities,” she says. “I want our organization to be the catalyst for more Ursula Burnses [Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp.].” After more than 20 years as an engineer, Bryant decided to launch her start-up. While networking at conferences in the Bay Area, she noticed few people of color, unlike in the biotech and pharmaceutical
industries, which are more diverse. Recruiters claimed they could not find qualified women of color, and Bryant became determined to change that. To pique girls’ curiosity about tech, she offered saturday workshops during which role models who looked like the girls showed them how to build Web pages and design video games.

For more of this feature,  please pick up the June issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now.