Community in Action
Lesbians Who Tech promotes visibility, connection, advocacy
by Jessie Wagoner
Lesbians Who Tech is making geeky look good—very good indeed. The community of over 11,000 queer women working in and around tech is inclusive and most certainly badass.
Leanne Pittsford, an entrepreneur, investor and thought leader at the intersection of technology and diversity, founded Lesbians Who Tech in 2014 with three goals in mind—create community, increase visibility and improve representation among women and lesbians in technology.
Rather than hiding in the shadows or remaining silent, Lesbians Who Tech is about being visible to one another and to others. Establishing connections with other lesbians and allies in the tech world and creating a network of support in the tech industry is a priority. Lesbians Who Tech pushes members to come out as the successful, powerful, badass role models they are to increase visibility to the public as well.
Many of those badass role models showed up to speak at the Fourth Annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies San Francisco Summit in February. Jimena Almendares, chief product officer at OKCupid, presented, as did Holly Berkley, founder and CEO of BlissMart. Berkley strives to provide the skills and knowledge to help women lead in a way that integrates their natural strengths of communication, collaboration, flexibility and emotional intelligence, and to support them in having a stronger voice in the shaping of our world’s future.
Over 100 tech-savvy women took the stage at the summit to share their experiences and wisdom with an estimated 2,500 attendees. Visibility is improving.
Lesbians are women first, and right now women are some of the most gifted people in technology, yet there are far fewer women than there should be. Women account for one in 15 people in STEM fields. Because there aren’t enough women, women are rarely quoted as experts by the mainstream media and blogs, on panels, etc. And add the element of being lesbian, it’s equally important for Lesbians Who Tech to represent women, and out women.
When it comes to promoting careers in tech, Lesbians Who Tech shelled out some serious cash to help level the playing field. The community fully funded the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship through a Kickstarter campaign, pledging more than $100,000 so far to make the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship a reality. This ensures up to 15 women will receive an education in coding. The bootcamp sponsor, Dev Bootcamp, kicked in another $100,000 in scholarship funds.
Lesbians Who Tech provides a platform to connect lesbians with the organizations that are advocating for LGBTQ rights. In 2017, the organization changed their approach to the annual summit. In addition to a heavy focus on tech issues the summit also focused on advocacy.
Summit organizers reached out to leaders who are rising up and using tech to lead the fight on issues such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, systemic racism and sexism and more issues at the intersection of power and freedom. Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and Lori Adelman, director of Planned Parenthood Global and Feministing both gave keynote addresses.
Lesbians Who Tech has active groups in over 30 cities throughout the world. To find out how to get involved or even start a new group visit lesbianswhotech.org.