It’s a moment that comes up over and over again when sharing experiences about what it’s like to be a woman in the LBGTQ community and working in technology.
You “can almost see the relief on somebody’s face,” as they think, “Oh, I’m not the only one,” said Shelby Baker, leader of the local Lesbians Who Tech chapter, which started in May 2016.
“We’re still in our infancy,” Baker said, adding that the organization has happy hours roughly every other month, including one Tuesday.
Join a community of LGBTQ women and gender nonconforming people in tech plus allies for a night of networking. The group will also discuss the annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies Summit on Sept. 7 to 9 in New York. This event is wheelchair accessible and 21+.
Where: 5801 Video Lounge & Cafe at 5801 Ellsworth Ave. (Shadyside)
When: July 25, 2017 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
How much: Free | Suggested $15 donation
The happy hours are open to anyone, “if you’re willing to support and promote our vision,” Baker said, adding that the group aims to increase visibility and opportunities for lesbians and women in tech.
“Many lesbians, and women in general, don’t always see someone who looks like them [in tech],” Baker said, adding she’s the only lesbian in an IT department of about 200 people.
She’s hoping to grow the local group with outreach and partnerships, as well as guest speakers and the addition of a co-director to help her lead the organization.
“It’s a really specific demographic we target, so we want to improve our outreach,” she said, adding that most of the roughly 15 members learned of the group through word of mouth and social media. The latter is how Baker found the national organization and said when she saw Lesbians Who Tech on Facebook, it was a quick fit.
“I liked what they were doing, and they were following up with their actions,” she said.
Baker started looking for a Pittsburgh chapter and said she was surprised one didn’t exist. So instead of waiting for someone else, she decided to start it herself.
The international organization started in 2012 and aims for regular gatherings “of women in the queer community in and around tech, chatting over drinks,” per its Facebook page. The organization has chapters around the world and brings thousands together for an annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies Summit.
Baker attended the summit last year and is planning to go again in September. One goal is that the speakers include women of color, as well as transgender and gender non-conforming people. The summit will be a topic of conversation at Tuesday’s happy hour to see if more members want to join.
“I’d like to see a bigger representation from Pittsburgh,” Baker said.