Lesbians Who Tech Recap: Thoughts on Workplace Diversity and Advocacy

Lesbians Who Tech Recap: Thoughts on Workplace Diversity and Advocacy

By Kat Aquino | Euclid Culture | 25 April, 2017

At the end of February this year, my colleague and I were fortunate enough to attend the Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) Summit in San Francisco. LWT was started by Leann Pittsford (@lepitts) who at one point in her career was pretty sure she was the only lesbian in tech. When she received any signs of interest from the outside world, she noticed a common factor – everyone reacted with “I’m not the only one?!”.

Today the conference is held all over the world – New York, Paris, Mexico and Singapore. Their goals are:

  1. To be more visible to *each other*
  2. To be more visible to *others*
  3. To get more women and lesbians in technology
  4. To connect LWT to LGBTQ and women’s organizations who are doing incredible work for the community

Lesbians Who Tech Infographic - Euclid Analytics

(LWT accomplishments and upcoming events/initiatives as of Feb 2017 – personally I’m excited about ‘Bring a Lesbian to Work Day’)

I would encourage anyone reading this to attend the conference no matter what you identify as or whether or not you are in the tech industry . Hearing stories from people with different everyday lives and perspectives will expand your horizon and, in my honest opinion, that’s NEVER a bad thing.

The LWT Summit is here to bring light to the power of inclusion. In one of the talks, a panel member suggested to use the term ‘inclusive’ instead of ‘diverse’. To me, this was a game changer. Include everyone. “We need to increase the diversity in our engineering department” and “Regardless of who we find that is qualified for the team, let us include them” are different mindsets. Increasing diversity as a goal will eventually exclude someone.

At The Summit, I heard stories of how individuals made significant impact at their companies. One lady managed to convince her company – *and all their offices* – to have gender neutral bathrooms. Think about this for one second… Did any of these thoughts run through your head?

  1. What’s the big deal?
  2. Well, no one at my company needs this.
  3. THAT’S an issue?

If so, you’re probably suffering from Great-Employer-In-A-Big-City privilege or  Extremely-Homogenous-Work-Environment syndrome. The former is exactly what I’ve been “suffering” from ever since I started working. Prior to attending the conference, I asked a fellow lesbian if she was going to attend. She replied, “I’m afraid to ask my manager if they’ll sponsor my ticket.”

I took for granted how easy it was for me to ask my manager if Euclid would sponsor our tickets that I was completely taken aback by my friend’s answer.

I’ve never experienced discrimination at work – not for my age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or vertical challenges (yea, I’m short).  Because I’ve never experienced this – I’ve been blind. I’m fortunate and grateful for this ignorance. But now, I’m even more fortunate and grateful for my increased awareness, and to be in a company that leaves me with no questions about these issues.  I was so moved by this conference that it made me reflect and I felt compelled to send a sappy, love e-mail to all of my colleagues.

Euclid has a diverse team and inclusion is part of our culture.

I feel very lucky to be in this safe environment, especially as a female, asian and lesbian in the engineering department. To me, LWT was eye opening because I wasn’t experiencing any of the problems I was hearing about in my day-to-day life at Euclid. I haven’t even experienced MANSPLAINING at work! Free internet hugs to those of you who have.

Definition of Mansplain - Euclid Analytics

We also have “Ladies Night” which is an amazing initiative with a constant growth in attendees. At Euclid, your age, gender, sexual orientation, dietary restrictions, cultural background and/or national heritage does not define your role in the team, nor does it set a basis for your competence.

What I hope you are asking yourself right now:

Tech and diversity have not historically been compatible terms – but it does not have to stay this way. With articles like Gender Discrimination at Uber Is a Reminder of How Hard Women Have to Fight to Be Believed and Why Gender Diversity In Tech Matters, it is clear that it is still a problem and it has not yet been solved — but if I’m working in an inclusive company, SO CAN YOU.

Want to join the Euclid team? Check out our job openings!

Kat Aquino

Kat Aquino

Kat Aquino is a Software Engineer at Euclid Analytics.

More posts by Kat Aquino