The annual Lesbians Who Tech summit is underway this week with an impressive roster of speakers and sessions including tracks on two of the foremost issues currently in the public consciousness—racism and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The five-day summit in San Francisco opened Monday with sessions on “Black Lives Matter: Where We Go From Here,” as well as “Black Trans Lives Matter: Centering Black Trans Folks in Activism and Tech,” and “The Importance of Self Care in the Age of Black Lives Matter: Taking Care of your Mental, Physical, and Emotional Self.”
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The group, which claims 50,000 members, is comprised of LGBTQ women, nonbinary and trans individuals who work in tech, whose goals are to make themselves more visible to one another and to highlight the work they do in technology. Currently, women account for one in five people in STEM fields, according to the group.
Lesbians Who Tech was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Leanne Pittsford, who launched include.io, a mentoring and recruiting platform that fights bias in technology; and the digital agency Start Somewhere. The organization is inclusive of all people who are “underrepresented in technology.”
There are 102 sessions and speakers include Angela Williams, policy manager at Google; Chris Mossiah, a software engineer at JPMorgan Chase; Cindy Finkelman, CIO of FactSet; US Congresswoman from Kansas Sharice Davids; Ingrid Dahl, a senior director at Capital One; Jasmine McElroy, diversity and inclusion manager at Venmo; Jen Wong, COO of Reddit; and actor Jennifer Beals.
Jacqui Guichelaar, CIO and a senior vice president at Cisco, will speak Wednesday on COVID-19 and how it has accelerated digital transformation. Other sessions include “Test-Driven Development: Write Better Code, Faster.”
At 2: 15 PDT, Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will speak on “The State of America,” with Alicia Garza, principal of Black Futures Lab and co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
Tuesday’s sessions included “Leading a Fortune 500 During a Pivotal Time in US History” with Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes, who told attendees, “A safe, affordable food supply is a pillar of our national security. It is all of concern. It is not a rural concern—it is an American concern.”
And California Senator and former president candidate Kamala Harris, another keynote speaker, reminded the group “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel alone. That is a way of taking away your power. You are not alone. We are all in this together.”
In her session on how white women leaders can empower Black women at work, Venmo’s McElvoy told attendees to “Amplify the voices of Black women. Don’t speak for us but help us be heard.”
In her conversation, Congresswoman Davids said, “When we see young LGBTQ people with disproportionately high rates of suicide, it matters if we have institutional leadership saying, ‘This is a problem and we need to address it. Your experience matters. Your life matters.'”
Thursday sessions include “Building Teams in the Age of COVID-19,” and “Responsible Innovation: How Tech Leaders Can Help Curtail a Dystopian Future.”
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will speak on “Changing the World Through Mentorship.”
Friday sessions will include “The Future of Venture and Startups Post COVID-19,” “How to Manage Remotely like a Boss;” and “How Technologists Can Save Our Democracy.”