It seems like only yesterday we were running a giveaway for Lesbians Who Tech in Berlin. It really seems like only yesterday that we were raving about what a success LWT Berlin was. And now it is time — New York City, let the nerdy lesbians descend upon us. Our bodies are ready. Is it so much better than the Pope and entire UN that have really messed with our traffic patterns this last week here in the Big Apple? Maybe not better, but certainly gayer. The Lesbians Who Tech Summit in New York City is coming up October 1-4, and is packed with events like TED-style talks and what is literally called “Networking that doesn’t suck.”
I caught up with Lesbians Who Tech Founder Leanne Pittsford to ask what the focus is for this coming New York Summit and what makes it new and different than the last. The interview was edited for length and flow.
Ali: What’s new and different about LWT NY that I can tell our readers this year?
Leanne: Yeah! So many cool things, I’m actually working on a couple late additions, so I’m hopeful will work out, but I think this year the focus on finance, media, and technology is sort of experimental and kind of a call to action to bring people that maybe otherwise haven’t been a part of our world before? And I think a lot of people really see technology as software development, and really specific to that, but a lot of things are technology. I mean just looking at finance, thinking about the billion dollars that are spent that make sure that our financial data is private and secure, and that we can use products to have financial tools to help all people — that’s really cool stuff that’s happening in technology! …What I’m really excited about is to have a few speakers/panels that are talking about the innovative things that are happening there, and how people are getting access to more financial freedom through technology—and also kind of a call to action about hey, what still needs to get done, and who is going to help build this stuff, and how can we make sure that these products are great for all types of people. And so bringing these people together, the diversity of our conference with some of the bigger players in the financial world and the financial technology world I think could be really exciting for people.
A: So I’m guessing that this focus on finance and technology is a product of speaking to the cities that you’re hosting in?
L: Exactly. Obviously when we first started, lesbians and queer women and technology was pretty niche right there, but to my amazement, it’s been really exciting to see just how many queer women there are in different types of technology, and when you focus on a specific industry, it makes them feel like, more committed, like “I have to be there” — because we’re focusing on media and finance. Not to mention we obviously picked those two industries because it’s New York. We also have a fashion hackathon on Saturday.
A: Ohmygosh, wait, tell me so much more about this!
L: Yeah, so that’s another area that we want to do more of next year for New York. We kind of decided to start with Media and Finances because we have better access to people in our current membership that were a part of the world, but we wanted to do something at least, minimally-fashion… but basically the concept is similar to a hackathon — people will get together, it’ll be more design focused. So, a lot of the queer fashion, a lot of the androgynous fashion that’s popped up from all different companies, we actually have a panel of designers with different companies, they’ll be talking about the intersection of how we use different technologies to get different people the fashions that they need and want. The woman who’s running it, her name is Vanessa Newman, she’s amazing, she started Butch Baby, so the idea is more androgynous woman for women who are pregnant. So the idea is that not all women want pink, or super frilly kind of clothes. So her company is going to be marketed to the masses, not just to the queer community, but obviously there’s something special in that intersection, and I think part of it is getting customer feedback and really thinking about how we can create tools that will help people get the product they want, specifically looking at fashion. So it’s going to be a little bit of fashion, hacking together, and also it’s going to be technology at the same time.
We have a regular hackathon that’s focused on data for good, which we’re partnering with with Unicef on and Bloomberg, and the fashion one will be the same day. So people can choose whether they want to do the fashion one, or they can do the data one at Bloomberg.
A: Awesome, that sounds so cool. I’m so excited!
L: Yeah, I think it’s fun! We want to do more, I mean, technology, literally, is — it impacts every industry, everything we do, our experience as consumers, individuals — all of these products, I think, and fashion obviously is huge in New York and I would like to make it an even bigger focus next year.
A: I’m so excited, I’m just so pumped. Is there anything that’s completely different about this one than the last one? Other than the focus, so like, structurally, speaker-wise, is there anything completely different that I won’t expect going in?
L: I mean, we’re trying to save a few surprises, you know?
A: [Laughs] Of course!
Normally you’d have to pay hundreds of dollars to experience this geek-lady magic, but Leanne Pittsford wants to, once again, give away five Summit tickets to the Autostraddle community to make sure you — yes you! — can make it too. Simply comment on this post and let us know, well, anything you want to let us know. Tell us why you’re excited to go to the Summit, what your opinions are about the intersections between finance, media and tech, or what tech project you’re working on right now that you want to talk to your fellow nerd-queers about! You’ve got until Monday, September 28th at noon to leave a comment. I’ll announce the winners on Monday night! Winning will be random — I use a random number generator and a spreadsheet of all the people who commented. You’ll have to arrange travel to New York City yourself, as well as any overnight accommodations you might need. And it goes without saying — any Summit that we feature here on Autostraddle is trans and non-binary-folks inclusive. I also want to point out that some Autostraddle humans will be involved — A-Camper Jeanie Chung will be speaking and Writer Loraine Kanervisto will be helping out with the Hackathon. And I’ll be there covering the event for Autostraddle, so come say hi!
Edit: Zomg, I forgot to mention one of the coolest things happening—US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith will be interviewing Edie Windsor, gay marriage hero and also formerly with IBM. Good sweet lesbian Jesus, I can’t wait.
This has been the one-hundred-forty-sixth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy tech column. Not everything we cover is queer per se, but we talk about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to websites you have to bookmark to any other fun shit we can do with technology. Header by Rory Midhani.