Last night we attended a reception held at the British Embassy of Tel Aviv, organised by and for the members of LGBTech and Lesbians Who Tech. We didn’t plan to write about this event separately, but some very important thoughts have emerged that are worth sharing.

 

We arrived to Israel yesterday to see our friends and participate in the famous Tel Aviv Pride. Our first program was the above mentioned event.

The first question that usually comes up: why does LGBTQ community need their own professional (or any kind of) organisations? If we crave for acceptance and inclusivity, why the separation again? I won’t go into details now, just a short summary: urging visibility and introducing role models through it is a very important precondition for LGBTQ people to live every aspect of their lives openly in all fields of life. Considering the above I looked into LGBTech’s website. Here are some things they do:

  • Connecting LGBT professionals through fun networking events, providing access to and increasing visibility of LGBT industry leaders.
  • Supporting side-lined members of our community through raising the profile of relevant and inspiring role models.
  • Promoting the provision of equal rights/perks for LGBT employees, working with companies to enable the creation of comfortable and safe working environments.

The event was very welcoming and nice with 250 guest in the garden of the Embassy. You can guess the ratio of men and women, if you don’t want to, I tell you: around 90/10. If there is one thing we can be sure of is this ratio doesn’t reflect the LGBTQ gender breakdown in tech profession. The problem again is (in)visibility. As a queer woman, Leanne Pittsford was faced with the same problem: while lesbian entrepreneurs and employees certainly existed somewhere within the tech world, Leanne didn’t know how to go about finding them. That’s why she formed Lesbians Who Tech, a supportive professional community that has now more than 35 chapters worldwide. It was the co-organiser of yesterday’s event for the first time.

Let’s move to the speeches, or more precisely, to the speech of Claire Harvey - she mentioned the two most important thoughts of last night that I’d like to share with you. Claire works at KPMG as a consultant, she and her partner raised 2 children together. What we also should know about her is after her professional sport career she had an almost fatal accident in 2008, after which she got into a wheelchair, then she qualified for London Paralympics in 2012 to represent Great Britain.

I would like to highlight 2 important topics of her speech. The first that really catched me is:

diversity is a given, inclusion is a choice.

This sentence can be interpreted to professional and also to general environment, and it is so well put that it doesn’t need further unfolding.

The other important topic that Claire spoke about is the significance of role models.

Don’t forget the power of role models… You can never be who you don’t see.

This is a thought that continuously inspires us in qLit as well. One of the missions of qLit is showing models to the readers; introducing people, stories, viewpoints that can serve as samples to the members of the lesbian* community, thus helping them at all aspects of their lives.

 

Photos and translation by Eni Várhelyi

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