As LGBT History Month draws to a close, Kubrick Diversity Champion Han Booth reflects on the leaders in data and technology that have pathed the way for their own career journey.
LGBT History Month was founded by Schools Out and has been celebrated since 2013 with the aim to promote equality and diversity. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride event in the UK where 2000 people gathered in support of gay rights. It is an important time to reflect on everything that has been achieved and remember the people who have been a part of the change.
For me, LGBT History month is a time to learn about my community's culture and where I fit in. I navigate through life and my career with my LGBTQ+ identity; a process which was not taught at school or university. Situations that only LGBTQ+ folks experience in the data industry can be challenging when you don't have resources or LGBTQ+ peers to gain advice.
To celebrate and educate, here are some of the most inspiring LGBTQ+ people in Technology and Data who have influenced me so far in my journey as a data engineer.
1. Leanne Pittsford
CEO and founder of the largest LGBTQ+ community of technologists in the world, Lesbians Who Tech, Pittsford has created a powerful space for queer women and non-binary folks to influence the tech and data world. Not to be overshadowed by her other achievements: organising the annual LGBTQ Tech and Innovation Summit at the White House and her recognition as one of the most powerful people in tech by Business Insider.
She has shown me that we can be the ones to create change for our own community and there is a wide network of over 100,000 non-binary, LGBTQ+ Women, queer women of colour, and allies out there. In a 2016 interview she said, “We spend so much time at work that our identities are connected to what we do for a living”. Folks should be able to wear their identities proudly at work and companies that support this will attract and retain talent.
2. Angelica Ross
Pose is one of my most favourite TV shows of all time, but it was American Horror Story where I first saw Angelica Ross. Alongside her acting career, she is a self-taught coder and graphic designer which lead her to create TransTech Social Enterprises which focuses on empowering transgender people and gender non-conforming people find opportunities in tech.
Ross says it better than I can: “When they see me on television living out my dream as a dark-skinned, black, trans woman being able to take up space both in the tech industry and in Hollywood, what it tells them is... they don’t have to try to fit into a box. That if they love technology and they want to learn coding, they can learn coding”.
3. Alan Turing
One of the most famous mathematicians of all time, Turing’s influence on technology is widespread. His most notable achievement was the Bombe machine, which was capable of breaking Enigma messages on an industrial scale. Despite his incredible service, he was prosecuted when police noted a relationship he had with another man. After undergoing hormone treatment for two years instead of going to prison, he killed himself in 1954.
A lot of the things we take for granted now are here because of Turing’s work, including the technology that we use day to day. Turing’s showed passion and defiance during his life and career and I wonder what else he could have achieved if his career continued.
4. Florence Nightingale
Most of us know her as one of the founders of modern nursing. However, she was also a statistician and created some of the first infographics which is used in Kubrick training today! The Royal Statistical Society elected her as the first female member in 1859. There are debates regarding Nightingale’s sexuality, with some documentation to suggest that she was lesbian.
Prior to training at Kubrick, I studied medicine and I am amazed at the work Nightingale did for nurses, women, healthcare, and data. I think about the skills I have taken from one industry to another and remember that we can be a great representation for our community in spaces where we are a minority.
When researching important LGBT figures in data and tech, I was amazed by the overwhelming contribution they have made to the data and tech industry. For LGBT History Month, it is important to highlight these achievements and provide inspiration for anyone interested in the tech and data industry. There is space in this industry for our community, and our identity doesn’t stop us from becoming some of the greatest leaders in data.
About the Author
Han Booth (They/Them/Theirs) is a Data Engineering Consultant at Kubrick and member of the Kubrick Diversity Champions. They are passionate about sharing experiences and helping people find their confidence and be proud about their individuality.
Speaking to their Kubrick readers, Han said, “If you fancy a chat or have something you would like to share with the Diversity Champions group, please feel free to send me a message, I will be more than happy to listen.”