The lack of diversity in IT doesn’t just leave underrepresented workers feeling alienated; it can also make them feel unsafe. That’s certainly true for the LGBTQ+ community, with only 76% of LGBTQ+ workers reporting they feel safe in their workplace and 64% of trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) individuals saying the same, according to a report from Blind. Moreover, only 35% of LGBTQ+ and 41% of trans or GNC workers say they feel “represented in upper management at their company.”
While the tech industry has made more of an effort to foster greater workplace diversity in recent years, there’s still a lot of progress to make for LGBTQ+ workers. Despite the industry lagging behind in equality, there are a number of organizations committed to bringing equality to the tech industry by creating communities and offering support for underrepresented trans, queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender nonconforming IT workers.
Lesbians Who Tech
Lesbians Who Tech is open to the LGBTQ+ community and its 50,0000 members include women as well as nonbinary, trans, and gender nonconforming individuals. The organization aims to connect LGBTQ+ tech workers and to create more visibility for queer, female, trans, GNC, and POC leaders in the industry. Lesbians Who Tech also offers the Edie Windsor Coding scholarship, which grants scholarships to LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary tech workers to help kickstart their technology careers.
LGBTQ in Technology Slack
The LGBTQ in Technology Slack is a safe space for LGBTQ+ people in tech to chat, support one another, and connect virtually over a Slack channel. This moderated Slack channel is open to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning, as well as “any of the many other subgenres of people who are not generally considered both ‘straight’ and cis.” It’s a great way to connect with other LGBTQ+ individuals in tech in a casual and low-pressure environment.
LGBTQ Tech offers programs and resources to support LGBTQ+ communities and works to “educate organizations and policy makers on the unique needs LGBTQ+ individuals face when it comes to tech.” LGBT Tech conducts research on LGBTQ+ individuals’ personal experience with technology and the tech industry and works at the “national, state, and grassroots level on programs and policy informed by research.” The organization also offers resources to members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. LGBTQ Tech also offers programs that bring technology to homeless, isolated, and disadvantaged LGBTQ+ individuals across the country, as well as a program dedicated to motivating LGBTQ+ youth and young adults interested in science, technology, engineer, arts, and mathematics fields.
Maven Youth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQ+ youth to “network, organize, and educate for social change through technology and the tech sector.” They provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth ages 14-24 across the country by offering summer camps, a youth leadership council, workshops, apprenticeships, leadership retreats, hackathons, and networking experiences. The organization also helps its young members explore various careers in tech, build skills, and develop their speaking, presenting, teaching, and mentorship skills through its Tech Career Readiness program.
Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM)
Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) is a nonprofit professional organization for LGBTQ+ people in the STEM community. oSTEM has over 100 student chapters at colleges and universities across the US and abroad, as well as professional chapters. Chapters organize networking tools and events to help connect LGBTQ+ students and professionals in STEM to find mentorship and job recruiting opportunities.
Out in Tech
Out in Tech has 16 chapters with 40,000 members and touts itself as the “world’s largest nonprofit community of LGBTQ+ tech leaders.” The purpose of Out in Tech is to create opportunities for members to “advance their careers, grow their networks, and leverage tech for social change.” The organization also offers a mentorship program for LGBTQ+ youth aged 17-24, pairing members with a mentee to help them learn technical and professional skills.
Out to Innovate (formerly NOGLSTP)
Out to Innovate, formerly known as the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP), is an inclusive nonprofit organization for LGBTQ+ people in STEM. Out to Innovate offers programs to empower LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM through education, advocacy, professional development, networking, and peer support. It also offers networking opportunities for members who attend professional society meetings, as well as workshops and professional development opportunities through the organization’s mentoring program, career services connections, and biannual Out to Innovate Career Summit.
Pride in STEM
Pride in STEM is a charitable trust run by an independent group of LGBTQ+ scientists and engineers based in the US and UK that aims to support the LGBTQ+ tech community through events and activities to highlight members of the community and create networking opportunities. Events feature speakers and networking sessions that help “break down any barriers between those who do STEM work and people who are interested in it” while also highlighting the “positive and negative aspects of being an underrepresented group in STEM.”
Queer Coders is a community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer coders, developers, programmers, designers, analysts, data wranglers, “technophiles,” and allies. Members can network with other LGBTQ+ coders and analysts through forums and networking opportunities. It’s also a valuable resource for companies looking to hire LGBTQ+ programmers and for coders to find companies that are LGBTQ+ friendly through the job board.
Queer Tech Club
The Queer Tech Club offers professional development and networking opportunities for LGBTQ+ technologists through meetups and events. The group hosts a monthly happy hour event in the Chicago area where members can have a chance to pitch startup ideas, highlight recent accomplishments, and share new projects they’re working on. Members also get an opportunity to network, share job opportunities, and make connections for professional development.
Start Out aims to “increase the number, diversity, and impact of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and amplify their stories to drive the economic empowerment of the community.” The organization was started in 2009 to combat discrimination in the business world and to promote LGBTQ+ equality, especially when it comes to providing equal access to key resources needed to advance business initiatives and entrepreneurial ventures. Start Out hosts events for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and products and they also fund LGBTQ+ research in the tech industry and regularly showcase the accomplishments and success of LGBTQ+ individuals in the tech industry.
Trans*H4ck was launched as a “response to the growing social and economic barriers that plague the trans community,” including an unemployment rate that is twice the national average, an average annual income of less than $10,000 per year, higher rates of homelessness, and discrimination with health care, level services, and housing. Trans*H4ck promises to tackle these social issues by “developing new and useful open-source tech products that benefit the trans and gender nonconforming communities” to promote economic advancement, improved services, more safety, and better support for the trans community.
TransTech Social Enterprises
TransTech Social Enterprises is a “co-learning and co-working community” and incubator for LGBTQ+ talent, with a focus on the transgender community. TransTech offers trainings and co-working and meetup locations for members to develop skills and connect with other LGBTQ+ individuals in the tech community. Membership is free and will give you access to “educational and career track-specific workshops” and to professional equipment in the Chicago co-share working space. TransTech also offers opportunities for on-the-job training and mentorship connections.
Sarah White is a senior writer for CIO.com, covering IT governance, hiring & staffing, and IT jobs.
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