39 LGBTQ+ STEM Innovators and Resources

There can be little doubt that tech has been instrumental in increasing acceptance and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Digital apps, websites, and forums have helped to foster community, provide safe spaces for learning and education, and even promote safety. Tech-friendly cities like New York, Atlanta, Seattle, and San Francisco all stand as supportive hubs for LGBTQ+ professionals, and many within the community have found their professional place within the tech industry. 

In a way, this is no surprise; after all, technology has long been associated with the advancement of social progress and dissemination of new norms, ideas, and expectations  — and the progress we’ve seen in recent years is certainly inarguable. 

This social progress has been achieved through tremendous collective effort and at least partially advanced by innovations that help LGBTQ+ people communicate with each other, build communities, and cultivate safe environments for people to openly be themselves. The social benefits to LGBTQ+ inclusion, equality, and acceptance are clearly evident; however, the business and economic benefits of an inclusive approach are also worth mentioning. 

Policies that support LGBTQ+ inclusion have been linked to higher profitability, productivity, and value. Companies known for their inclusive and supportive policies for LGBTQ+ employees tend to have greater profitability and success in research and development. This is the case even when state anti-discrimination laws mandate protection for LGBTQ+ employees; the companies with proactive policies often do better on all levels. Inclusionary policies are also viewed positively by investors and typically correlate with improved recruitment and retention.

The tech sector has undoubtedly advanced equality and innovation. However, many LGBTQ+ tech workers still face barriers as well as opportunities. 

According to the Tech Leavers Study, LGBTQ employees were among the most likely to be bullied at tech companies, with a full 20 percent reporting bullying on the job. The 2,000-person survey found that 24 percent of LGBTQ tech leavers had been exposed to public humiliation or embarrassment, while only 13 percent of respondents who were not LGBTQ said the same. Of those who decided to leave their companies, almost two-thirds of the LGBTQ professionals said that bullying was a reason for their choice.

Still, there is room for optimism. Countless businesses and industry leaders have stepped up to advocate for LGBTQ+ employees. Companies have established affinity groups for LGBTQ workers and interest groups in the community have received significant funding from tech industry leaders. Their efforts are instrumental to ensuring that the tech world becomes safer and more supportive for people of all sexual orientations and identities. 

Below, we’ve listed some of the most inspiring, innovative individuals and organizations making a difference for the LGBTQ+ tech community.

24 LGBTQ+ Tech Innovators to Follow

Arlan Hamilton

To date, Arlan Hamilton is the only Black queer woman to have built a venture capital company from the ground up. She is also a writer and educator who offers courses in investing and entrepreneurship. Follow her on Twitter at @ArlanWasHere.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Kortney Ryan Ziegler is a Black American trans filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and blogger. He is known for his blog, blac(k)ademic, which, prior to its shutdown, addressed the particular concerns of a Black queer academic. He is also well-regarded for his film, “STILL BLACK,” which spotlights black trans men. He stands as the founder of TRANS*H4ck, a nonprofit that offers community and visibility for trans technologists and entrepreneurs. You can keep up with him on LinkedIn.

Leanne Pittsford

The founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech, Leanne Pittsford leads the largest LGBTQ community of technologists around the world. The organization includes 40,000 LGBTQ women, non-binary people, and queer women of color across 40 city chapters. Follow her on Twitter at @lepitts.

Kara Swisher

You don’t have to be a coder to make an impact in the tech world. Kara Swisher is one of the most influential journalists in the tech world. With significant connections up and down the organizational charts of major firms and a reputation for doggedly searching out key scoops in the tech industry, Swisher’s thoughts are read — and respected — across the tech sector. Follow her on Twitter at @karaswisher.

Aliya Rahman

Aliya Rahman builds software for social justice movements. Her main aim is to strengthen the relationship between grassroots movement, community organizers, and tech innovators. As the former field director of Equality Ohio, she has proven her ability to build strong ties between LGBTQ+ rights groups and other social justice movements. Follow her on Twitter at @AliyaRahman.

Megan Smith

The third Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Megan Smith is a former vice president at Google and the former CEO of Planet Out. She serves on the MIT board and co-founded the Malala Fund. Today, she serves as the CEO and Founder of shift7. Follow her on Twitter at @smithmegan.

Chris Sinton

Chris Sinton is the chair emeritus at StartOut, a nonprofit that helps LGBTQ entrepreneurs achieve their aspirations. His resume lists roles as a senior director at Cisco and the co-founder of Network for Good, one of the major platforms dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations — including LGBTQ community groups — fundraise effectively online. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSinton.

Sara Sperling

Every great tech company builds its success on a strong foundation of talent. Sara Sperling currently runs her own HR consulting business and launched her career by building HR programs from the ground up at major startups like DoorDash and Snapchat. She also headed the diversity and inclusion program at Facebook. Follow her on LinkedIn!

Ann Mei Chang

After spending years in top technology roles at Apple, Intuit, and Google, Ann Mei Chang moved into global development and the public sector. She was part of the team to launch the Alliance for Affordable Internet and recently served as the Chief Innovation Officer for the Pete Buttigieg presidential campaign. Follow her on Twitter at @annmei.

Martine Rothblatt

As the founder and chairwoman of the board of United Therapeutics, Martine Rothblatt is the top-earning CEO of the biopharmaceutical industry. She was also the creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and the CEO of GeoStar. She is known for her advocacy of transhumanism and the potential for technological immortality. You can keep up with her on LinkedIn.

Peter Arvai

Peter Arvai is the executive chairman, co-founder, and CEO of Prezi, an innovative Hungarian presentation company that offers the internet’s largest library of presentations and maintains a base of over 100 million users. Arvai, who has made advancing diversity and inclusion a priority since founding his company in 2009, emphasizes the importance of open involvement in the tech world for LGBTQ innovators. Follow him on Twitter at @peterarvai.

Gina Trapani

Web developer, tech blogger, and writer Gina Trapani is the founder of the Lifehacker blog. She also led the development of ThinkUp, a social media aggregation and analysis tool, before becoming the director of engineering at Postlight. She has been named one of the most influential women in tech and one of the most influential LGBTQ people in tech. Follow her on Twitter at @ginatrapani.

David Bohnett

David Bohnett was an early pioneer in the tech field. He founded GeoCities in 1994, an effort which helped people around the world express themselves for the first time online. Today, Bohnett is an investor through his venture capital firm, Baroda Ventures. He is known for his public advocacy for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.

Claudia Brind-Woody

A leader on the business side of the tech field, Claudia Brind-Woody is the Vice President and Managing Director of intellectual property at IBM. She was named one of the most influential LGBTQ people of the year in 2012 and was repeatedly named in Financial Times’s OUTStanding list for LGBTQ business professionals. Follow her on Twitter at @BrindWoody.

Angelica Ross

Beyond being a businesswoman, actress, and transgender rights advocate, Angelica Ross is also a self-taught programmer and coding professional. In 2014, she founded TransTech Social Enterprises, a firm that works to promote transgender inclusion and employ transgender people in the tech industry. As an actress, she had starring roles in Pose and American Horror Story  — and earned acclaim for her performances in both. Follow her on Twitter at @angelicaross.

Shamina Singh

Shamina Singh is the founder and president of the Center for Inclusive Growth and the Executive Vice President of Corporate Sustainability at Mastercard. She is responsible for the credit card giant’s environmental and social governance strategy and plays a role in public service and anti-discrimination advocacy. Follow her on Twitter at @shaminasingh.

Nichole Mustard

The chief revenue officer and co-founder of Credit Karma, Nichole Mustard is the creator of one of the most well-used credit score and information companies in the country. The company was recently sold to Intuit for $7.1 billion. She put herself through college and became a financial planner before dedicating her skills to creating Credit Karma. You can keep up with her on LinkedIn.

Jimena Almendares

As a product executive at Facebook, Jimena Almendares works to develop Facebook app projects. She previously served as CEO and President of Intuit Payments and then as OkCupid’s Chief Product Officer. When she grew up in Mexico, she was a three-time national champion in ice skating. Today, she frequently speaks on topics relating to women, technology, and diversity. You can check out her thoughts on LinkedIn.

LaFawn Davis

LaFawn Davis is the vice president of diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Indeed, one of the foremost job search sites available. She leads Indeed’s efforts to eliminate systemic bias and discrimination in the job-hunting market, focusing specifically on improving the platform’s accessibility and inclusivity. Visit her LinkedIn to check out her ideas and perspectives!

Caitlin Kalinowski

As the head of Oculus’s virtual reality hardware team, Caitlin Kalinowski lives on the cutting edge of the tech industry. She was previously a technical lead at Apple and part of the initial tech team for the unibody MacBook Pro. She currently serves on the strategic board of Lesbians Who Tech and is a board member of Wogrammer. You can keep up with her on LinkedIn.

Jacqueline Guichelaar

Jacqueline Guichelaar is the Group Chief information Officer at networking giant Cisco. She previously held a variety of executive positions in major technology and finance companies such as Deutsche Bank, IBM, and Computer Science Corporation. You can keep up with her on LinkedIn

Vivienne Ming

Vivienne Ming is the founder of Socos Labs, her fifth company. Socos is an independent think tank that aims to use machine learning and neuroscience to advance human potential. She previously served as a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley’s Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. You can keep up with her on LinkedIn. 

Jeff Ragovin

Jeff Ragovin is the managing partner at Ragovin Ventures and chief commercial officer at Fyllo, a data, media, and compliance solutions provider. He previously stood as the co-founder of Buddy Media, a company that evolved from a ground-level startup to the leading enterprise social marketing tool in the world. Buddy Media sold to Salesforce for $800 million in 2012. You can keep up with him on LinkedIn.

Tim Cook

As the Chief Executive Officer of Apple, Tim Cook is one of the best-known technology leaders in the world. He became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly come out as gay in 2014. He serves on a wide array of boards and is renowned internationally for his leading role in the tech field. Follow his Twitter at @tim_cook.

7 Organizations for LGBTQ+ People in Tech

With so many major companies making broad strides towards inclusion, this is a great time to pursue your dreams and enter the tech sector. Those in the LGBTQ+ community have brought a tremendous amount of innovation, creativity, and insight to the tech industry, and most organizations in the sector welcome their contributions. Today, there are an array of organizations and initiatives designed to facilitate further inclusion, provide supportive spaces, and advance recruitment and retention of LGBTQ+ employees. Check out these resources and groups to launch your tech career with pride!

Out in Tech

Out in Tech is a networking organization that is designed to bring the LGBTQ+ tech community together, provide networking opportunities, and help people to promote social change. The organization holds over 100 events every year, encourages queer youth to explore tech careers, and supports activists working to advance LGBTQ+ rights. You can join a city chapter or take part in various events.

Lesbians Who Tech

Lesbians Who Tech is one of the largest, most inclusive organizations for queer women and non-binary technologists. In addition to offering summits, programs, job boards, and networking opportunities, Lesbians Who Tech also runs the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship, which supports up to 50 percent of tuition for queer women and non-binary applicants.

Maven Youth

Maven Youth offers summer tech camps, virtual workshops, and youth leadership programs. The organization promotes tech knowledge, education, and involvement for LGBT+ youth between the ages of 14 and 19. These programs are designed to give LGBT+ youth the skills they need to excel in a tech career and explore their professional passions.

Unicorns in Tech

Unicorns in Tech was founded in 2014 in Berlin. The network brings together over 4,000 LGBT+ members around the world, connecting startup founders, social media experts, journalists, designers, students, and entrepreneurs in different areas of tech. Unicorns in Tech provides career opportunities, networking, and meetup events to build social and professional connections.

HackOut

HackOut is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship weekend. Hosted in-person and virtually, the event is free and open to the public, offering participants the opportunity to present business pitches and compete in their final presentations. The event includes seminars, mentorship, and other activities to promote LGBTQ business success.

LGBTQ in Technology

The LGBTQ in Technology Slack is a multi-channel forum that provides a space for LGBTQ people in the tech industry to connect with one another, share their thoughts, and network in a safe, supportive community.

500 Queer Scientists

500 Queer Scientists is a visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people working in STEM. You can contribute your own bio and story, connect with participants, and learn more about queer scientists succeeding in the tech industry.

Additional Resources

There has never been a better time to take the leap and launch a career in technology. Tech is shaping our lives; now and in the future, LGBTQ+ involvement will be critical to making the world a more inclusive, progressive, and welcoming place.

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