At the young age of 13, Stephanie Lampkin learned to code. By the time she was 15, she was fluent in computer programming. Graduating from Stanford University with an engineering degree and from MIT with an MBA, she remembers still being told her background wasn’t “technical enough” when applying for a position at a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley.
“The recruiter told me a sales or marketing job might open up,” she said.
Luckily for Stephanie, she ended up landing a position at Microsoft, where she would spend five years working in a technical position. But Stephanie continued to wonder if her earlier job denial could have had something to with the fact that she is a Black woman.
With this doubt looming in the back of her mind, Lampkin decided to create a job matching tool that is aimed at removing the race and gender factor from the tech sector job hunt.
The app is called “Blendoor.” It allows people searching for employment in the tech sector, to upload their resumes and then hides their name and photo from potential employers. Lampkin says the idea is to avoid bias by removing gender and ethnicity from the equation.
During her research, Lampkin found that, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, a “white sounding” name can return as many job callbacks as an additional eight years of experience for someone with an “African-American sounding” name.
“It’s quantifiable,” Lampkin said. “We realized that hiding names and photos created a safer space.”
Blendoor is scheduled to go live on March 11th, at this year’s SXSW digital festival for public beta testing. So far, Lampkin has had buy-in from 19 large tech firms. She aims to have 50 on the app in the near future.