I attended the 5th annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies conference this past week in San Francisco. The conference has grown to 5,000 people, mostly queer women, who are there to learn from one another, network, and be inspired. The keynote speakers included both lesbian and straight women who are changing the landscape of tech through leadership positions at tech companies as well as through their roles in media, law, and government.
The founder of the conference, Leanne Pittsford, discussed how she was intentional about being inclusive when building the conference, ensuring that a certain percentage of the people who attended were women of color and trans. This inclusivity and diversity was apparent and striking when looking around the room. That group of people was the most racially and ethnically diverse community of which I have had the privilege to be a part. This idea of inclusiveness is one that we should all take back to our workplaces to ensure that we are creating work environments where we look to bring diverse people and their experiences in and that once they are in, we are ensuring everyone is heard.
While there were many inspiring keynotes, the one given by Dawn Laguens, the Executive Vice President & Chief Brand and Experience Officer at Planned Parenthood, impacted me the most. She discussed how technology is being used in a variety of ways within Planned Parenthood to build empathy, support women’s reproductive health, and provide opportunities for remote healthcare. Her talk walked through what a day in the life of a woman could be if she used all of the applications available to her through Planned Parenthood. Their technology is working for good - to improve women’s and men’s sexual health and to change the ways in which people can access care and information. This talk made me reflect on how technology and building apps can provide important social supports and play a role in social change.
I believe strongly in the views and leadership that women can provide in technology. As women in tech, we should look to get our faces out there so young girls and women know that there is a place for them in this space, and we should ensure that we are mentoring and lifting up our fellow women in our workplaces. I walked away from the conference feeling excited to be a queer woman in tech and energized to continue to push for change in this industry.