Celebrating Pride: A History of LGBTQ+ Identity in Tech
As we commemorate Pride, it is essential to shed light on the experiences and perspectives of individuals within our professional spheres who have found the courage to embrace their authentic selves. Today, we have the privilege of delving into the inspiring story of Adri Nieuwkerk, a remarkable Engineer at Akkodis whose story aims to highlight the importance of fostering an environment where everyone can thrive, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
13th of June, 2023
Maybe you are familiar with these names: Alan Turing, Lynn Conway, Tim Cook, Jon Hall or Peter Thiel. They all have some things in common. They made great contributions to technology as we know it today. But they are also part of the LGBTIAQ+ community.
They have faced their challenges, not only in the world but also in the tech industry. Some of them have been arrested and convicted, or even became outcasts, erased from the history books, just because of who they were, who they are, or for living the life they wanted. Their contributions to technology helped us as a community to create awareness and visibility to the world in several ways. The communities we created to reach out to each other, to get educated, find friends and lovers are mostly online. We must use that same technology to create a supportive environment, to find a safe and supportive environment when we are in need.
To inspire and to educate, their stories must be told. We can and should focus on their contributions to society. By telling their stories, we can learn how they overcame adversity, how they found their own voice, and how inclusivity and representation can empower us all and change the way we look and think about our each other.
For those in the tech industry, or those thinking about making their first steps in this industry, remember that you are not alone. Be yourself, be unique, it does matter, and it is a tribute what you do.
From the past to the future, I’m convinced that technology will help us more. But we must keep working to break through the gender boundaries when it comes to AI and machine learning. We are still at a disadvantage today because most inventions are tested and based on the cis male gender.
When it comes to healthcare, education and even employment, in our daily lives, we still struggle with this disadvantage. For example, the safety measures in cars, like the seatbelts and airbags, are still based and tested on the cis male gender.
In healthcare, symptoms from diseases are also based on the cis-gendered male, when in fact, other genders have other symptoms for the same diseases. And to my colleagues in the tech industry, I want to say: embrace diversity and be inclusive. Learn from those who have overcome diversity. Be yourself for them, be an ally so others can walk an easier path.
Yes, we have come a long way, but we aren’t there yet. In the tech industry, there is still a cis male straight normative bias, and our technology is seen through these lenses. We need to speak up and be open about it to embrace change. Recognize that we are all different and unique and use that as a competitive advantage.
If we all do that, eventually the industry and the world itself will become a place where everyone can be themselves. And one day, we will only have one list of names. Not a list to condemn people, or a list of people who need to be kept secret. But a list full of people known for their contribution to technology, and members of the LGBTIAQ+ will never be afraid to strive to be on that list.