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Mar 05 2015

Lessons from the Lesbians Who Tech Summit!

Repping Upswept at the 2nd annual Lesbians Who Tech conference!
Repping Upswept at the 2nd annual Lesbians Who Tech conference in 2015!

If you are a woman in the tech industry and feel your most recent Portland tech conference was mostly populated by white, 25-35 year old men, you wouldn’t be incorrect. A recent survey by Bloomberg shows that silicone valley big hitters such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter are all failing to get above the 30% women mark, globally, across the board! If you are a lesbian or queer person, and even more so if you are a lesbian or queer person of color, the numbers are even more dire.

We at Upswept Creative are excited and proud, however, to have better diversity numbers than our competition! I myself have been openly gay since I was a teen, and we openly embrace diversity in our team. After hearing about the local Portland chapter of Lesbians Who Tech, I was excited to attend the Lesbians Who Tech Summit from February 26th-March 1st in San Francisco. Over 1200 women attended from all over the US, and the agenda was packed with amazing workshops and presentations regarding diversity issues, making smart career choices, and who technology can support social justice efforts. Here are some notes from the summit!

Diversity is important because it leads to more success.

Companies with female board members tend to be more successful than companies without. But while females comprise roughly 50% of the adult population, there are more male CEO’s called John in the United States than there are CEOs who are female! Companies with diverse employees tend to be more successful because they can appeal to a broader market. Diversity is more than just hiring women – it also means hiring older people, younger people, people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, gay, queer and transgendered people, people who are differently able, and people who have non-traditional backgrounds.

Takeaway: Make your company appeal to a diverse audience by putting diverse people in your offices – not just in your advertising. If you are not in a position to affect hiring decisions: actively support diversity goals by joining interest groups, fostering connections, and supporting local diversity initiatives.

Support Women by providing work environments that are pregnancy/child friendly.

There are plenty of techy women available for hire :)  Photo by: Evelyn Rios @evelynriossf
There are plenty of techy women available 🙂
Photo by: Evelyn Rios

According to an article published by the New York Times a few days ago, there are more male CEO’s called John in the United States than there are CEOs who are female! A big reason for this is motherhood. Not all women will become mothers, but for those that do, working full or even part time can be a challenge. Work with your employees and colleagues to find solutions that allow for a more flexible schedule, including working remotely. Accommodate breastfeeding mothers by providing a private area to pump milk. Hire women who are trying to get back into working after taking maternity leave.

Takeaway: Mothers are amazing multitaskers, mature communicators and driven problem solvers by necessity – a real asset to any project team.

Strengthen relationships to empower your community to success.

For me, it was an amazing experience to attend a tech conference that was geared towards Lesbians and Queer women. It allowed me to relax and be myself, while also allowing me to network extensively with sympathetic peers. Lesbians Who Tech was an amazing opportunity for mutually beneficial connections to form, all while supporting a community that needs to empower itself to manifest change. Even if you do not belong to any specific minority group, connecting with a community of likeminded peers can provide you with the support to reach your own personal goals, which in turn can inspire others to take the first step.

Takeaway: Get connected to others with whom you share common ground. Let’s keep supporting each other!


Portland professional photographer | Portland branding agency | Upswept Creative

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