Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the Lesbians Who Tech + Allies (LWT+A) summit in San Francisco. According to LWT+A, “Lesbians Who Tech is a community of queer women in or around tech (and the people who love them)”. It’s likely the only conference of its kind, specifically engaging queer women and their communities and importantly, held in San Francisco, the heart Silicon Valley. The three-day event featured keynote speakers from all ends and levels of the tech industry in the U.S. – and was a great place for many first-time presenters to gain professional speaking experience.

I successfully applied and received a discounted “scholarship” ticket to attend which helped lower barriers to access the otherwise expensive industry event. Last year, I received the 2018 LOUD Foundation Scholarship Award which supported my travel expenses to attend the summit too!

My fellow TechinColour organizer, April Alayon, also attended the LWT+A. We were delighted to be on the same flight to SF together!

The keynotes were by far the most exciting thing for me – seeing so many powerful and successful women leaders in one place in such a short span of time was pretty rad. This year’s LWT+A keynote speakers included politicians Tammy Baldwin, Stacey Abrams and London Breed (Mayor of SF), YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton and Angelica Ross of TransTech Social Enterprises, and many many more.

One of my favourite speakers was Kara Swisher of Re/Code – her interviews with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Laurene Powell Jobs of the Emerson Collective were critical and fantastic. You can catch both interviews in the links above – I highly recommend the one with Susan Wojicicki – a fiery interview about toxic behaviour on YouTube (and Google more broadly) and the company’s inability and struggles to manage it.

LWT+A is an industry conference, a diversity and inclusion training event, a recruitment drive (who wasn’t in attendance was highly discussed among attendees) and a semi-casual professional community hang. When else do you have 5,000 women who feel relatively safe to discuss their personal lives with other professionals without fear of backlash? Or young professionals discussing the intricacies of birth control as a genderqueer person while waiting for burritos? Connecting with a community of queer women in tech was reaffirming and going to San Francisco for LWT+A was a great way to kick off the new year!