Five Things – Observations from the Lesbians Who Tech Summit
As the VP of Design here at Do Big Things, which is a diverse, majority woman-owned company, I’m actively interested in changing what the face of the world looks like—including, of course, the mostly straight, white, cis male-dominated tech world. With that goal in mind, I recently signed up to attend the 2019 Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco’s historic Castro District.
This isn’t just your average technology summit—it’s the largest LGBTQ technology community in the world, made up of over 50,000 LGBTQ women, non-binary and trans individuals, people of color, and allies. And you can bet the conversation was flowing all weekend. My experience at #lwtsummit reminded me that building relationships and alliances with other underrepresented folks who are also working toward something bigger than yourself will get you closer to that goal of changing the face of the (tech) world.
Here are five of my takeaways:
1. Prioritize and Share Access
Angelica Ross, of Trans Tech, posed the sincere question, “What do you have access to? And are you sharing that access and those resources?” Building safe spaces, creating opportunities and sharing our resources within our LGBTQ+ community and with underrepresented groups is vital for our future. Can you make your team more diverse – hiring queer, talented people of color? Can you fund or donate to causes that lift up and provide resources for the queer community? Share, tweet and tell your networks about the people doing the hard work in our LGBTQ+ community.
2. We Need to Prioritize Courage
Voter suppression is happening in every election, but leaders like Stacey Abrams are working to combat that at every turn—and they’re not backing down. Fighting back will take all of us talking about this, combating it, and doing our utmost to make sure that voting is as accessible as possible all across the U.S. But that isn’t all. Voters need to know why voting matters to them—on issues ranging from the direction of our country to municipal concerns like getting the trash picked up.
3. Creativity is Key
Blending art and technology allows for so many solutions, products and outcomes to be created. One of many threads found throughout various talks was the need for artistic and creative thinking. Technology allows you to create worlds, solutions and whatever else you can think up. Whether that is using your development skills to build a new, accessible application or taking your experience and designing solutions from the lens of an underrepresented group. We, the LGBTQ+ community, have a limitless amount of creativity and one that continues to help shape the work we do.
4. Belonging Matters
Being amongst all my fellow queer techies brought with it a sense of calm, excitement, and home. You could feel the energy grow with each conversation and each stellar presentation. I’d never experienced anything quite like it in my 33 years. Before joining welcoming, progressive workspaces, I wasn’t comfortable sharing about my life, my queer family or my wife in fear that I’d be fired or harassed.
5. Diversity Really Does Make a Difference
Demographics underrepresented in the tech sector are building a force that will reshape—in fact, is already reshaping—what the tech industry looks like, who it serves, how it communicates, and what problems it solves. Events like LWT are making certain that diversity grows in the tech sector. But we have to keep moving toward a more inclusive and diverse tech industry, so that we can make sure that the new products and services we develop serve all communities equally and are equally accessible to all.
Thank you to Leanne Pittsford, the talented LWT team and volunteers behind the Lesbians Who Tech Summit and all the other great programs they run.