Pride is at the forefront of Work’s ethos as a company that takes pride in the diverse contributions of LGBTQIAS2+ individuals within the technology sector. This June, Works is celebrating this fact through its #WorksPride365 campaign.
Amidst our observance of Pride, it’s crucial to acknowledge the significant impact LGBTQIAS2+ individuals have had on technological advancements throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Overcoming discrimination and diligently working to establish an inclusive work environment, first-generation LGBTQIAS2+ IT professionals are an exemplary embodiment of fortitude and bravery, deserving of admiration for their commendable efforts.
Try to identify these remarkable individuals who’ve greatly impacted the advancement of contemporary technology.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, made headlines in 2022 as he publicly declared in a Bloomberg column to being the first openly gay executive of a Fortune 500 corporation.
Having joined Apple in 1998, Cook has impressively spearheaded the company’s most prosperous period, resulting in it being the first US corporation to attain a $2 trillion market valuation.
Cook asserts that his sexual orientation has instilled in him the confidence to pursue his ambitions, surmount setbacks and discriminatory incidents. He further highlights its role in fostering resilience, which has been invaluable to him at the helm of Apple as its CEO.
It’s a great privilege for me to be associated with a company that acknowledges and appreciates originality, realising that its success is contingent upon embracing the distinctive qualities and perspectives of every individual.
The “Ten Great Taiwanese Computer Figures” list prominently features Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister and a free software programmer. In honour of their distinguished contributions to free software and programming, the Prime Minister of Taiwan tasked Tang with developing a literacy curriculum for the nation’s schools.
During the COVID-19 epidemic in 2009, Minister Audrey Tang collaborated on the creation of a new mask tracking system, streamlining the monitoring and procurement of masks for Taiwan’s inhabitants. The system functioned by leveraging data collected by the government to allow citizens to determine the availability of masks at nearby pharmacies, leading to a significant decrease in COVID-19 infections. Minister Tang is widely recognised as the world’s first openly trans government minister and identifies as gender non-binary.
Business Insider recognised Ann Mei Chang as one of the “most influential LGBTQ+ persons in tech” in 2022. With a professional background commencing at Apple and Google in Silicon Valley, Chang has an impressive history in the computer industry. During her tenure as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the US Department of State, she played a pivotal role in the founding of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), which aims to promote internet access in economically disadvantaged regions. Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organisation committed to rebuilding areas affected by natural disasters, strife, or economic downturns, has appointed Chang as their Chief Information Officer. Chang is widely acknowledged as a preeminent authority on social innovation, a proponent of global development, an author, and a speaker.
During the 1970s, he was a vocal member of the Gay Liberation Front, amongst other political involvements.
Edith Windsor was a pioneering figure in the technology industry, with a distinguished career as a computer programmer and engineer employed by IBM and Combustion Engineering, Inc. throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She held multiple roles in the software engineering industry, ranging from mainframe programmer to senior systems programmer, and was a prominent champion for gender parity in the workplace. During her appearance at the 2022 Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) Summit, Windsor disclosed that roughly one-third of her colleagues at IBM were females, attesting to her commitment to women’s rights in the technology sector.
Edith Windsor, a fearless activist for the LGBTQIA+ community, vehemently advocated for the right to marry irrespective of sexual orientation. Following the loss of her spouse in 2009, Windsor found herself facing an inheritance tax because same-sex couples were not recognised under US law. In a subsequent court case, the decision went in her favour, paving the way for additional rulings that would broaden legal protections for LGBT individuals.
Nergis Mavalvala is a distinguished quantum astrophysicist who has proudly self-identified as a person of colour and a member of the LGBTQ community. She acquired her doctoral degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology after attending Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Mavalvala’s team, who performed groundbreaking work detecting gravitational waves–a concept introduced by Albert Einstein over a century earlier–led her to accept positions on the faculties of both California Institute of Technology and MIT. The MIT-managed Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory included her prototype laser interferometer for detecting gravitational waves. In recognition of her amazing achievements, the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals designated her the 2022 LGBTQ Scientist of the Year.
In 1978, Sally Ride made history by becoming the first female astronaut and, at the age of 32, the youngest American to journeyed into space for NASA. During her first space shuttle mission, she adeptly deployed satellites into orbit and manipulated a robotic arm. Ride continued to break new ground in the aerospace industry, participating in her second mission in 1984. Following her departure from NASA in 1987, Ride composed literature aimed at both children and educators to encourage women’s involvement in STEM fields. Sadly, Ride succumbed to cancer in 2022 at the age of 61. In an obituary composed by Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s partner of 27 years, she described her as the first LGBTQIA+ astronaut.
May your pride amplify over the course of this month!
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