Ask Trish: Pride Month: LGBTQIA+ Representation In Tech

It’s Pride Month! And there’s so much to celebrate. But there’s also a lot of work to be done, especially…

Jun 19, 2024

Share this...

By Trisha Prabhu

Me, thinking to myself a few days ago, “It’s Pride Month! And there’s so much to celebrate. But there’s also a lot of work to be done, especially in the tech world…”

Hi there, and welcome back to another week of Ask Trish! I hope you’re all well and having a wonderful June thus far. 

It’s June…which means that it’s Pride Month in the US and elsewhere around the world! Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions the LGBTQIA+ community have made to our society – and to honor their struggle for representation, equality, and acceptance. In that vein, Pride Month is not only about acknowledging how far we’ve come, but how far we have to go, how much work remains. In that vein, this week, I thought I’d dig into an important area where we still have a ways to go…LGBTQIA+ representation in the tech and digital worlds. Though there are certainly many inspiring LGBTQIA+ tech/digital leaders that have transformed the world as we know it – folks whose stories I have told in past Ask Trish posts! – representation remains an important issue. In this week’s post, I’ll share some stats to give y’all a sense of how lacking current representation is, talk a bit about why this gap persists, and share some suggestions re: how we can close the gap.

Sound like a plan? Let’s go:

Statistics on LGBTQIA+ representation in the tech world are notoriously hard to find – for decades, this question was understudied/underdiscussed. But overall estimates suggest that the LGBTQIA+ community are 20% less represented in STEM fields than expected. And for those LGBTQIA+ folks that do work in tech, being open about their identities can be a challenge. According to the Human Rights Commission, 46% – nearly half – of LGBTQIA+ tech workers are not open about their identities at work due to fear of discrimination/repercussions. It’s also hard for these workers to find role models: just 35% of LGBTQIA+ tech workers feel represented by their company’s senior leadership – that’s just a little over a third! Without question, representation is seriously lacking. And it’s not just representation that’s fallen behind – pay has too! The Human Rights Commission has found that LGBTIA+ workers (in tech and otherwise) in the US earn 10% less than their non-LGBTIA+ counterparts

Why is this? What’s happened here? From the research out there – and the many conversations I’ve had with LGBTQIA+ tech workers – I’d say that there are a number of factors at play here (note that the following list is not comprehensive; these are just a few factors I’ve seen and heard repeatedly mentioned):

  1. A history of discrimination that persists: The LGBTQIA+ community has historically faced oppression and discrimination in the US, and unfortunately, that discrimination continues to this day. So many LGBTQIA+ tech workers report persistent harassment or microaggressions based on their identities; many others note that their identity often doesn’t fit the “tech bro” stereotype that Silicon Valley expects. The result is the feeling that they just don’t belong in the tech world – and ought to go elsewhere.
  1. Policies that negatively affect LGBTQIA+ folks/families: Many LGBTQIA+ tech workers point out that workplace policies can inadvertently disproportionately negatively affect LGBTQIA+ tech workers and their families. Take, for instance, paid leave for new parents. If a workplace decides to only offer paid leave to mothers – and not fathers – two new dads that have just had a child will receive no paid leave. That, of course, can make it difficult to raise a family…and thus encourage LGBTQIA+ workers to leave their job and even the industry.
  1. A lack of leadership to spearhead change: Finally, there’s been a notable lack of leadership in the tech industry to spearhead change. Said a good friend of mine who works in the tech world and identifies as bisexual: “All CEOs do is institute diversity training and put a poster up in June. That’s not enough!” We need to have real leadership and a real desire/commitment to advance representation and ensure inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The good thing is – we know what the challenges are, which means we can make progress towards improving things. And in this case, I think the challenges I’ve cited above map pretty clearly onto potential solutions:

  1. Acknowledge, interrogate and combat discrimination: The first step towards addressing discrimination against LGBTQIA+ is acknowledging that it’s there and critically interrogating how and in what ways it manifests. Many LGBTQIA+ tech workers I’ve spoken to say that discrimination isn’t overt; it operates in more insidious ways. Digging into those pathways/mechanisms will be key to curbing this discrimination.
  1. Think about how workplace policies affect EVERYONE, and course correct appropriately. The key to doing this well is ensuring that diverse perspectives are represented at the policy making decision table. Bring everyone in, and make those decisions together.
  1. Make leadership on these issues a key way we evaluate tech leaders: If tech leaders aren’t doing enough on these issues, they aren’t doing enough, period. LGBTQIA+ equality matters much more than a product roll-out. Enough said.

I hope this post has left you inspired to take action on LGBTQIA+ representation in the tech world. If you’re in a position to implement some of these suggestions in any tech-related (or non-tech related!) spaces – whether at school, in a job, or as part of a club or community group – please, take action. Thank you in advance for your commitment to advancing equity in our world.

This will be my last post of June – next week and the following week, I’ll be taking some vacation time (as should we all! For folks that are also in the Northern Hemisphere, get out there and enjoy the nice weather while we have it!). But I’ll be back with more content – and more posts – in July. Before my return, I’d love it if you all would share any internet-related thoughts or musings on your mind with me here. I can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks in advance for contributing.

Have a great rest of the month,



It’s Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈 There’s a lot to celebrate, but there’s also a lot of work left to be done. LGBTQIA+ representation in the tech world remains shockingly low — how can we change that? Get Trish’s thoughts in this week’s post ⬆️⬆️ #pride

♬ original sound – Ask Trish

Share this...