When the tech boom hit, it became apparent that Silicon Valley was looking distinctly white, distinctly cishetero, and distinctly male. With Lesbians Who Tech, Leanne Pittsford aims to change the face of STEM.
In 2008, Leanne Pittsford and her brother were living in San Francisco, working on the “No on Prop 8” campaign, and teaching themselves in their spare time how to code. When her brother tragically died in his sleep two years later, Pittsford got even more into the tech industry as a way of connecting to the field he was so passionate about. “I fell in love with the way technology could connect people online, and the positive impact it could have on our community,” she says.
It was when she combined this love of tech with her decade in LGBTQ+ activism that she started seeing magic happen. So, she founded Lesbians Who Tech, a community and series of tech summits that focuses on “increasing the visibility of LGBTQ women, trans and gender nonconforming individuals, LGBTQ people of color, and demographics that are underrepresented in the tech sector and LGBTQ spaces,” according to their website.
“Our first summit was an experiment, one I thought would fail,” Pittsford says, but then, an incredible 800 queer women showed up. Now, LWT has over 50,000 LGBTQ+ women, nonbinary, and trans techies in over 40 cities around the world.
Pittsford wants every girl and underrepresented person to know that a career in tech is well within their reach. If you join Lesbians Who Tech, “you will find your people, your squad,” she says, “and with their support, anything is possible.”
Still not convinced that the tech field is for someone like you? “Email me,” Pittsford says, “and I can help if there are any barriers to making that happen. My promise has always been to make sure every person who wants to attend, can.”
This piece was originally published in this year’s Out100 issue, out on newstands 12/10. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe — or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, or Nook beginning 11/21.