What can we do about the lack of diversity in tech? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Makinde Adeagbo, Founder @ /dev/color, former engineer/manager @ Pinterest, Dropbox, & Facebook, on Quora:

What kind of impact do diversity in tech programs have on the populations they serve?

Looking at my life is a great way to understand this impact. I didn't get to where I am without 10+ programs designed to target minorities at every stage of development.

  • In high school I was part of Black Achievers and NSBE Jr. Both opened up the world of engineering to me and showed me that there were black people in these professional roles. I was the type of kid who loved challenges and loved to win. So I entered a lot of competitions and did a lot of workshops that they provided.
  • In high school I attended summer programs at the University of Kentucky & MIT (MITES). Both were specifically designed to support minority students by showing them the college experience and recruiting them to those schools. I never would have gone to MIT without MITES. I simply didn't think I was good enough to go to a top school like that. Which is amazing that I thought that, since I was at the top high school in Kentucky and doing very well.
  • At MIT, I continued to participate in NSBE, which is how to got my internship at Apple.
  • Once in the industry I stayed in NSBE for a bit, participated in many meetups for black professionals, and ultimately started /dev/color so black engineers can help one another get to the top of the industry.

Basically, I've been in programs designed to get more black people in STEM since I was about 10 years old. Each one was critical to keeping me on this path and getting me to where I am.

So what can we do? Support these programs. Volunteer at them. You will make an impact.

Also, realize that the conversations you are having about diversity in tech are useful. Building empathy with other people's situation is really important and valuable. From there, you can naturally help even more people. That intern from an underrepresented group ... why don't you take them under your wing for the summer? They might be feeling really alone. Reach out, connect, and help folks at any stage of their careers. From middle schoolers to the Director in that other org. Learn about how they see the world.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions: