We've just returned home from an adventurous, invigorating trip to Silicon Valley for a very unique tech conference. Lesbians Who Tech Summits have been going on for 5 years, and the goal is to get more queer women and underrepresented groups into tech, have their voices heard, and to create a community for all these powerful minds. It's no secret that the tech industry is historically white, male, and unwelcoming to women. LWT is working to change that in the most empowering way possible.
We were both lucky enough to win scholarships to attend the Summit, held in the historic Castro District of San Francisco - fitting for a conference with goals to empower the LGBTQ community. The days were filled with rapid fire talks on all sorts of tech topics - from blockchain, to cybersecurity, to social justice, to AI, to augmented reality. Conversations on politics were unavoidable, and many leaders lent their time and knowledge to the summit. Some of the keynotes included Megan Smith, 3rd CTO to US President Barack Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, Bozoma Saint John, Chief Brand Officer of Uber, and even Canadian gems Tegan and Sara Quin. We did notice a lack of cleantech talks so hey, maybe next year we can hit the stage!
Left Column, top to bottom: Land's End at sunset; Kara Swisher of Recode; Rachel Renock of Wethos on sexual harassment and startups; our CTO Nicole at Land's End. Centre: Castro Theatre sign, the main stage for the Summit. Right Column, top to bottom: our CEO Lauren Smith posing at a fitting sign; arm wrestling semi-finals; famous seals at Pier 39; Tegan & Sara speaking about their activism and foundation.
Throughout the days there were laughs, tears, knowing nods, roaring applause, and even an arm wrestling competition (we didn't win). The experience was invaluable - we met many inspiring folks and entrepreneurs that we will be sure to stay in touch with. Having a conference like this is not only incredible for connections, but it really creates a community where folks can share similar experiences and learn from one another on both a personal and professional level. There are LWT Chapters all over the world, and we'll be starting one in the Kitchener-Waterloo region soon!