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Simone Biles meets with fans in her home town at Kroger on September 30, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Young athletes of color are increasingly compelled to pursue gymnastics as the faces of the most elite competitors reflect a more diverse collection of backgrounds.

The big picture: Women of color make up half of the members of Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.and more than half of the 18 women asked to come to the Olympic trials in St. Louis last month were women of color, according to the Associated Press.

  • Simone Biles, of course, has transformed the identity and popularity of the sport as the most decorated gymnast in world championship history — winning 25 medals, including 19 golds, to date.
  • She is joined on the team by Jordan Chiles, who is also Black, and Sunisa Lee, who is Hmong American.
  • Participation numbers remain low on college gymnastics teams but even there, progress can be seen. Black women make up nearly 10% of scholarship athletes at the NCAA Division I level, a 3% increase from 2012. AP reports that more than 10% of USA Gymnastics member self-identify as Black.

What they're saying: "Simone has opened the eyes to so many women of color saying 'Hey, you can do this, too,'" said Cecile Landi, Biles’ co-coach, per AP. "It’s not just little skinny white girls that can do it. Anyone can do it. And then it’s a Black-owned business, so I think it attracts its own families that way."

  • "I remember calling my husband and saying 'Bruh, you will never guess,'" said Gina Chiles, the mother of Jordan, per AP. "At our home gym, Jordan was the only one. It was refreshing to be able to see people of all colors. But to see the amount of little Black girls doing gymnastics, it just did my heart so good. It’s hard to explain. It just felt like 'Wow.'"
  • "Representation does matter," Gina Chiles added. "And Simone has put her foot in it. She’s definitely set that path in a lot of ways. Whatever level you go to, you can be excellent at that level. And a lot of Black girls see that. And a lot of Black girls now want to be that."

Go deeper: When to watch Simone Biles, the G.O.A.T, at the Olympics

Go deeper

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A Hard Truths event on the tech industry

On Tuesday, October 19th, Axios Editor-in-Chief Sara Kehaulani Goo and chief technology correspondent Ina Fried examined the current inequities within hiring practices, workplace culture and development in the tech industry today, featuring Girls Who Code CEO Dr. Tarika Barrett and TechEquity Collaborative founder & CEO Catherine Bracy.

Dr. Tarika Barrett explained how to engage and empower young girls to learn tech skills, how the pandemic exacerbated access to educational tools, and how big tech companies can address the industry’s gender gap.

  • On empowering the next generation of tech leaders: “Having more representation of women and people of color in tech in particular, can actually be the difference we need to empower a pipeline of young people and girls of color to pursue the tech careers of the future.”
  • On the gender gap in the tech industry: “As we are simultaneously addressing this growing gender gap in tech and trying to prepare our girls and young women for these thriving, exciting careers of the future, we also know that it’s within an industry that continues to sometimes be the source of negative news and troubling instances of discrimination.”

Catherine Bracy highlighted how tech platforms and their business models affect the broader economic well-being of a community, and the importance of improving working conditions for different tiers of workers at tech companies.

  • On inequities for contracted employees at tech companies: “We have done research that shows that not only are they treated differently because of labor laws and whatever else, but they are also more likely to be members of underrepresented minority groups.”
  • On how tech companies can better support contracted workers: “We do think that if they’re going to contract out, that they should ensure with the vendors that they’re using to provide this workforce, that those workers have an equal level of protection, benefits, stability as their full-time workforce. I feel like that’s the least that they can do.”

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer for Global Investment Research Gizelle George-Joseph, who spoke about how structural barriers affect labor market opportunities for minority communities.

  • “We talk about education, and six decades after Brown vs. Board of Education, 70% of Black students still attend a school where the majority of students are non-white. All of these have really broad repercussions for Black women and very large negative impacts on college graduation rates, on the labor market, and ultimately on our life outcomes.”

Thank you Goldman Sachs for sponsoring this event.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.

Updated 3 hours ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.