May 16, 2024

How The Break Through Tech AI Program Is Elevating Underrepresented Women In Tech

Break Through Tech AI

Break Through Tech AI, the largest program of its kind in the U.S., aims to support college students from underrepresented backgrounds into top tech careers.

Specifically, the program helps underrepresented groups, including lower-income, Latina and Black women and nonbinary students, gain the skills they need to get jobs in data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Expanding Access to Elite Tech Opportunities

Hosted and supported by institutions such as MIT, UCLA, and Cornell Tech, Break Through Tech AI is free and focuses on students from public institutions and historically Black colleges. 

The initiative’s approach includes an online summer course in machine learning basics, $2,000 stipends, and mentorship from industry professionals.

Participants engage in AI challenges set by top employers, creating models to solve real-world problems. 

For example, this year’s students developed AI models to classify plant specimens for the New York Botanical Garden, with some achieving over 99% accuracy. 

These projects not only provide practical experience but also impressive portfolio pieces that can attract job recruiters.

Securing Internships at top tech companies

A key measure of the program’s success is its internship placement rate. 

While only 36% of college seniors nationwide reported having a paid internship in 2022, 82% of Break Through Tech AI participants secured paid internships at organizations like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. 

“These students are not in schools with well-known names or from families that can open doors. We are just giving students the opportunity to show what they are capable of,” Judith Spitz, the executive director of Break Through Tech told The New York Times.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.