Lesbians Who Tech summit 2015: we were there !


The Castro Theater is bonded. An All-American show for 1200 lesbians and their allies who make today’s technology.

LWTPublicLesbians Who Tech summit 2015, Castro Theater, San Francisco

They came from all states and even farther. I waited in line between a girl from Missouri and another one from New Jersey. I had a coffee with one from Colorado and ate my dessert with a girl from my neighborhood.

“We must be visible” Aliya Rahman said, director of the Code For Progress program,

“We must write our own story and if we want the right words to be used, we can’t let anyone do it for us.”

And this would be the motto of the summit.

In a professional world mostly dominated by white men, whether you talk about tech or not, you have to jostle for position and show yourself. Being a woman of color – and a lesbian on top of it – isn’t the easiest way to enter this world. You have to fight, without losing yourself, and remain authentic. Of course, you can’t come running out of control and must always pay attention to your image. Especially at a time when every word and picture can leak and be shared with the entire world via social networks in a minute. Which is why we “must be prepared” Elissa Shevinsky, CEO of Glimpse, reminds us. For example, she asked to be interviewed by email rather than on the phone.

This summit was a series of public speakings by women who have fought their way through and succeeded with their business, from the small local one to the big corporation.

Tina Lee, for instance, who was there to promote MotherCoders, a program designed to teach mothers how to code.

“81% of women become mothers, right? Who’s a mother here? Who wants to be one? We even have a grand-mother here.” At MotherCoders, they offer to babysit while Mommy is taking Coding lessons.

“I help mothers, they have an economic imperative, they raise children. When a mother improves her standard of living, she also improves her kids’s. It’s like the principle of communicating vessels.”
– Tina Lee (Mother Coders)

And Danielle Moodie-Mills to add “I used to work for an organisation in which when a man would leave too early to get his children from school, we would hear :

OMG you’re a wonderful Dad. You’re going to babysit your kids! That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard! You don’t babysit your own children, no! They’re yours!

But if it was a woman, a mother leaving early to get the kids, it was just all huh huh…”

Christy Gaughan, director of Marketing Science (Genetech), confessed she’s been wearing since her teenage years the same red flanel shirt and cardigan. On the giant screen behind her was a picture of her wife trekking in high moutain.

“Being a leader is like climbing to the top of a very high moutain.”

She was an expert technician who dreamed of more. She used to think that becoming a leader might be the most difficult thing to do. Her mentor had pushed her and told her that if it was indeed the most difficult thing for her to do, then she had to do it.

Lynne d. Johnson grew up in the Bronx and told us that she had managed to get the best of the white men in their forties. The Bronx wasn’t exactly the best place to start in life, if you weren’t into Hip-Hop. And that Hip-Hop culture is what helped her climb her way to the top and lend on that stage at the Castro Theater. She said we must speak about ourselves, say who we are and learn to do so in a fancy way, with an introduction, events, details, and a conclusion.

“Tell your story, let them know we’re here! Let them know we’re queer!”

The women here came with their wives when they had one, thanked them for being here. Danielle Moodie-Mills even admitted that she and her wife are talking procreation at the moment. Another one states fiercely that she has been happily married for 22 years and still having sex !

Lesbians Who Tech was a uncommon summit with a relaxed atmosphere in spite of the serious subjects adressed.

In addition to the main stage, the cafés in the neighborhood have played along and turned into different themed lounges for a moment. There’s one for the women who were seeking employment or contacts, and other lounges were used as bases of operations by corporations like LinkedIn or Indiegogo for presentations.

Diversity exists and it’s everywhere.

“To have ten white men at the head of your corporation isn’t an insconscious prejudice, it’s laziness and stupidity.”

Wow, when did you hear something like this before? I was surrounded by hundreds of lesbians, and I wasn’t in a bar or at a swimming pool in Palmsprings and we were talking about diversity as a positive strength. The Lesbians Who Tech summit is a concept that definitely had to be imported aboard.

There are 66 billions of French people, and about 6 billions of LGBTQ (10% they say), more or less 3 of which are lesbian, bisexual or trans women. It would be quite a meeting, right? Then we could organize our own Dinah Shore in Ardeche (Translator’s Note: Ardeche is a French region equivalent to Arkansas) The idea is out, if crazies like me want to follow, then come and find me!

Translated from the French by IMNSX