Arizona creator of interactive doll aims to bring more women of color into STEM industry

Mar 9, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 9:21 am
(Facebook Photo/Innovant Technologies, LLC)...
(Facebook Photo/Innovant Technologies, LLC)
(Facebook Photo/Innovant Technologies, LLC)

PHOENIX — A Black information technology professional hopes to increase the number of minorities in her industry by using a doll that teaches kids about computer science.

Arizona native Bukola Somide created “Somi,” a Black doll that educates kids about logical reasoning and problem solving while also boosting their creativity.

“She goes over center computer science concepts like algorithm, code, artificial intelligence and binary numbers,” Somide said, adding the doll relates computer science concepts to everyday scenarios for kids.

“Like with the word algorithm, she gives the definition and she says ‘algorithm is a list of steps to complete a task, such as things you do to get ready for bed at night.’ So it gives them a visual of what that actually means.”

Somide got the idea for Somi after working in the IT industry for 17 years and remembering usually being the only Black person or Black woman on her team.

She said that made her want to find a way to bring more representation into the STEM community.

“I wanted to help increase the number of underrepresented youth that are actually in this field and thriving in this computer science space,” Somide said.

She explains kids often find these computer science concepts to be intimidating.

“They feel like it’s too complex, so they automatically feel like they’re not smart enough,” Somide said “I wanted to demystify that and make the terms and concepts easier to understand.”

Somide said another goal was to make sure kids have enough relatable mentors as well.

“Having this character embody underrepresented youth will help inspire those that look like her, so they find her relatable,” Somide said.

There is also a book that goes along with the doll that explains her background and family.

“What I want to do is just shatter this mental glass ceiling that kind of limits us at times when we don’t see certain possibilities in our community,” she said.

Somide said the next step is to get Somi and the storybook into a school setting.

More information about the doll can be found online.

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Arizona creator of interactive doll aims to bring more women of color into STEM industry