There’s a shortage of people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer community in tech — not because they lack skill, but because they lack equal opportunity. Lesbians Who Tech, the organization for lesbian and queer women in tech, has selected 40 people to receive scholarships to attend coding bootcamps at schools like General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp and Turing.
Over the last few years, coding bootcamps have emerged as an alternative way to access the skills needed to get into the tech industry, without needing to attend a traditional college or university. The caveat is that these programs can be pretty expensive, averaging about $11,000 per student, according to Course Report, a database of information and reviews on coding bootcamps.
Enter Lesbians Who Tech’s Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship, which has more than doubled its reach from five to 40 scholars in five to 12 coding schools across the U.S. in the last year. Lesbians Who Tech was able to do that thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $100,000 from 722 people and Dev Bootcamp’s commitment to match the $100,000 goal. Of the 40 people selected for the scholarship this year, 67 percent are people of color, 10 percent identify as trans and 100 percent are LGBTQ.
“To have my name in the same sentence as Edie Windsor’s would be incredible. It inspires me to be a fighter, no matter what,” Natalie Ruiz, a scholar who will participate in Dev Bootcamp, said. “Her efforts accelerated a positive shift towards my rights, our rights — her story is remarkable. Also, having the opportunity to go full throttle with my learning and development is a blessing. This really is changing the trajectory of my life. I am grateful that I will be able to attend Dev Bootcamp as well as join and become involved with this wonderful community.”
In addition to being the person behind the lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, Windsor is a computer scientist. She kicked off her career in the tech industry in 1958, when she started working at IBM. During her time there, she ultimately became a senior systems programmer, which was the highest technical rank at the time. She was the first person in New York City to receive an IBM PC.
“The second I heard about Edie Windsor’s technical background at IBM, I knew in that moment, that Lesbians Who Tech had a critical role to play in telling her story,” Lesbians Who Tech founder Leanne Pittsford told me. “So that future generations of LGBTQ women in technology will know not only her heroic defeat of DOMA, but to know that just like them, she’s a techie. We named our coding scholarship after Edie to ensure her story will continue to inspire LGBTQ women everywhere. Because together with support like the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship fund, we can change the face of technology.”
Check out the scholars below.