Last year, a poll of 7,000 LGBTQ tech employees in Silicon Valley asked if they'd experienced homophobic harassment at work. 40% said yes.
But while that number is disheartening, the report made no mention of what the makeup of that percentile was.
Leanne Pittsford has an idea on how to address that.
After getting her master's in equity and social justice, Pittsford wanted to continue her work in LGBTQ activism. She began that work with Equality California. While there, she helped overturn the same-sex marriage ban in California but saw the win as bittersweet:
"I was managing the data in the campaign. I had a front-row to the sexism and the inequality that was even happening in the LGBTQ space everywhere I went. I worked in the Castro every day and I saw very few women. We did events and we tried to get women to be a part of the campaign. And not to say there weren't some incredible women, but every time you'd go to an event, every time we hosted our event, it would be somewhere between 80 and 90% male."
The LGBTQ tech industry's preferential treatment of gay men motivated Pittsford to organize. She founded Lesbians Who Tech, "a community of LGBTQ women, nonbinary, and trans individuals in and around tech (and the people who support them)."
"I felt like queer women specifically, and nonbinary folks were missing from the conversation."
A Common Theme
Andrea Breanna—wife, mother, and transgender lesbian—feels the same way.
Breanna is the founder and CEO of RebelMouse, "a creative agency with the best [content management system] in the world." RebelMouse arms its users with the tools it takes to grow and publicize online content.
"We're really excited about how we help media companies and brands that are genuine about their content really grow organic reach," Breanna says of her system.
Genuineness is the lynchpin of Breanna and RebelMouse's success story.
In 2017, Breanna began coming out as trans to her family and, a year later, her employees and clients.
"It's really hard to do," Breanna says. "But it's been really beautiful. I've thought about trying to understand how I could be helpful [for] people who want to come out and how it could go well."
She decided the best way was by setting an example in being her authentic self.
"Trans people need hope right now more than ever. They need to know that they can be successful if they're very good at their job. They need to know that people will follow a trans leader, sign deals with them, and allow them to grow their businesses," Breanna says.
A Common Hope
Pittsford agrees. And both see hope in numbers. Lesbians Who Tech now has over 50,000 members and dozens of chapters worldwide. RebelMouse has over 55 employees across 26 countries.
"I'd love to see us get to 100,000 people," Pittsford says. "I'd love to see us have more presence in some of the countries that need us the most. And I'd love to see, you know, more CTOs or CEOs who are LGBTQ women."
Breanna acknowledges her unique story. "I very much hope that the story of RebelMouse will not just be about how we helped the open web build a better product, but also about how we showed a different way to build an organization that cares about itself. What if Google and Facebook realized that three in 50 of its employees were trans?"
We're all still waiting on that answer.