Leading gay, lesbian and trans techies went to the White House yesterday – a great tech news story

Written as editor of the New Statesman’s NS Tech and first published here.

Amazon, New Relic and Netflix staff were among an audience of almost 200 leading technologists invited to the White House to talk about how the LGBTIQ community can help “tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges”.

The White House LGBT Tech & Innovation Briefing is sponsored by the (lesbian) US government CTO Megan Smith, who used to be VP of Google’s moonshot division [x], along with Lesbians Who Tech CEO Leanne Pittsford.

Speaking at the event, Smith said:

“Equality, diversity, justice, inclusion and innovation, all of these topics, which have always been part of our country and are very much live right now… are things that require all of us to be involved.”

This year’s event was designed to gather an audience that was 50 per cent people of colour, 50 per cent women and 20 per cent non-gender-binary people.

Smith urged techies to join the government, citing APIs and open-source as just two technologies the administration wholly supports. “Please come do that. Or add these things to your products,” she said.

She also flagged The Opportunity Project, which brings together US government datasets to help citizens and others can build data-driven community tools.

The group was there not just to discuss how tech and innovation can be used to tackle issues experienced by minority groups, though “LGBT and racial diversity inclusion in the tech industry” was one of the key topics.

.@WhiteHouse working together on tough problems that face #lgbtq in tech and inclusive policy #Fempire#WHLGBTQTechpic.twitter.com/HOZXdNCcxE

— Ana Arriola (@arriola) August 24, 2016

Preventing gun violence, big data and privacy, democratic representation issues, prison reform and environmental concerns were all worked on during the day too.

The event is building up to an inclusive innovation conference being created by Lesbians Who Tech this November.

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