Googler Spotlight: +Tracey Kaplan
Nearly 800 women filled the seats of San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater for the first-ever Lesbians Who Tech Summit on February 28, sponsored by Google and 19 other tech companies. The event sought to foster a community of lesbian women with a shared passion for the Tech industry. What started as an idea for Tracey Kaplan, a sales Googler and a member of the employee resource group the Gayglers, grew into a partnership with Lesbians Who Tech (goo.gl/F8lI26
In this Q&A, Tracey gives us the full story behind how the event grew from idea to reality.Why organize a summit for lesbians in tech?
Tracey: Events within the tech industry have historically catered to a straight audience and every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) tech event I’ve ever gone to has been 80-95% male. I wanted to create an environment for gay women to be around like-minded individuals, where they would be welcomed into a family, and feel empowered. What kind of events and sessions were held during the summit?
Tracey: The Summit events consisted of speaker sessions, product pitches from entrepreneurs and nonprofits, networking lunch n’ learns, a hackathon, and various social activities. Lisa Sherman, EVP and general manager of Logo TV/Viacom, +Megan Smith
, VP of Google[x], and others delivered keynotes, as well. You can check out the full agenda here: goo.gl/uD5BLW
.How did the Lesbians Who Tech Summit come to be?
Tracey: Google invites Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), like the Gayglers, to pitch ideas for diversity efforts and the best ones receive budget to make their ideas happen. I was introduced to +Leanne Pittsford
, the founder of Lesbians Who Tech. We shared a common vision and goal for the community, so Leanne created an advisory board of similarly passionate women from diverse backgrounds—which myself and 5 other Googlers joined. Through the board’s hard work, we created the Lesbians Who Tech Summit.Why did Google get involved in the Summit?
Tracey: For as long as I’ve worked here, Google has demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity. The company truly supports its employees and it is constantly on a quest to do both what is right and what makes sense for the business. Diversity is important at Google because it’s a global company. When you’re providing services to so many people, it takes many people with different perspectives, ideas and cultures to collaborate and build products for users around the world. What were Google’s contributions to the conference?
Tracey: Google is very supportive and encouraging of Googlers who want to take the initiative to do something cool and impactful. I felt the company supported me and the conference in so many ways. We were also very lucky to have Megan Smith, VP of Google[x] and executive sponsor of the Gayglers, take time out of her schedule to speak at the summit. This encouragement just reinforced the idea that, as Googlers, we can bring our whole selves to work and we have support at all levels of the company. Having Google as the first official Summit Sponsor also helped pave the way for 19 other Silicon Valley companies to sign on and support the summit.How did it go?
Tracey: We sold out—795 people attended the Summit! There were so many inspiring stories of entrepreneurial lesbians who are really making a difference in the tech, education and social good fields. I also learned that working in an ever-changing industry and being out in the workplace are risks worth taking.
In an exciting and unexpected twist, we raised more than $28,000 for five great organizations (More info: goo.gl/P32MGB
) that are using technology to change the world for women, the LGBT community and people of color. Will there be another summit in the future?
Tracey: How can we not do this all over again!?! You can sign up for announcements about the next conference and other events at LesbiansWhoTech.org (goo.gl/F8lI26