LGBTQ+ Rep in Tech

Written by Alex Cruz
Edited by Hannah Manuel
Graphics by Gwen Valimento

Love is one of the few things that seem impossible to code into a computer. We, ourselves, often have a hard time understanding what exactly love is. The thing is, we can’t teach computers to be discriminatory either — to them, everything is made up of mere 1s and 0s. That being said, we’ve looked up and talked to two women in technology who have made great strides in making sure that equality isn’t limited to computer codes. print(“Love Wins!”).


BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT!

  • Cristina del Rosario is a Filipina UX designer who took up Industrial Design at GeorgiaTech.
  • She created a vaccination mechanism that made it easier to administer vaccines in rural areas of the Philippines. She also helped develop an application that aimed to improve the technological and financial literacy of sari-sari store owners.
  • UX design is a relatively new field, which she found to be very open and welcoming. She says that there has been good LGBT+ representation and hopes the environment stays this way.
  • Arlan Hamilton is a queer black woman who founded and currently manages Backstage Capital, a fund “dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT.”
  • She is the author of “It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage,” a book that explores her personal journey from being a food-stamp recipient to becoming a venture capitalist.
  • She believes there’s still a lot to get done with regards to equality and representation in the workspace, and she continues to make great strides to make sure that happens.

Cristina Del Rosario is a Filipina user experience researcher and designer. She believes in integrating the sciences and the arts in order to create devices that are beneficial to society, having taken up Industrial Design, as well as courses in cognitive and social psychology during her time at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech).

While in college, she, with the help of biomedical and mechanical engineers from GeorgiaTech, developed a syringe meant to aid the delivery of vaccines to rural areas in the Philippines. The device utilized a new innovative mechanism that made the administration of these vaccines much more efficient and less painful. It also required less training than what is needed for common vaccines. This invention led her to become a finalist for the International Design Excellence Awards, and the syringe was later patented by a biomedical company.

For her undergraduate thesis, she worked with mechanical engineers to transport vaccines and health equipment to locations in rural Papua New Guinea.

Cristina finds fulfillment from empowering others through technology. Upon returning to the Philippines, she designed land surveillance drones for the military, while she simultaneously developed a financial literacy mobile application for sari-sari store owners. Her first prototype was called Sariload; the app taught its users how to navigate a smartphone and how to use their devices to keep track of their finances. Users of the working app, who were people with no prior background knowledge on technology, reported to have understood how to use it within a mere 8 minutes!

She now resides in Sydney with her wife, who she married after Australia legalized same-sex marriage back in 2017. She wishes that the Philippines would also endorse civil unions of the same-sex, and that same-sex couples may experience the same rights as any other couple, such as adopting a partner’s surname, sharing assets, and becoming one another’s emergency hospital contact.

As an LGBT+ woman in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), she says that she has not experienced any type of discrimination due to her sexuality in her work environment. She believes that her field has a good amount of LGBT representation, although she notes that the situation might be different in the Philippines.

She herself is aware of how lucky she is to have had such positive experiences in her field, despite being an LGBT woman. She is often vocal about many matters, especially in instances where she feels she is being treated unfairly.

I wish that people would just take us for the work that we do and not who we choose to love. [People] should be evaluated based on the merit of one’s actions and not on their sexual orientation.

Cristina del Rosario

Despite her lucky experience, Cristina understands the struggle that many LGBTQ+ individuals go through every day. Growing up in a Catholic family, she never thought she could get to a point in her life where she could openly be gay and be with her partner. In line with this, she wishes for the LGBT community to know that it’s okay to be themselves, and to be happy. “When I was younger, I never thought I’d get to this place I’m at now where I’m just able to live a happy life,” she said. “I just want others to know it gets better. Just give it time.”


Arlan Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Partner at Backstage Capital, a fund “dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are people of color, women, and/or LGBT.” Arlan built up this capital venture fund in 2015 from scratch when she was homeless, with no money, no college degree, and no network in Silicon Valley. She is the only black, queer female so far that has been able to build a venture capital firm from scratch. 

The startup has now invested about $7M into around 130 startups led by underestimated businessowners. Her awe-inspiring work has garnered her recognition from Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Quartz. She has also become the first ever black woman to be featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine.

Arlan remains determined to continue supporting these companies, with plans of having an “It’s about damn time fund” that aims to raise $36M strictly dedicated to black female founders, who are often overlooked, especially in Silicon Valley.

Last May, Arlan came out with her book “It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated into Your Greatest Advantage” which explores her personal journey from being a food-stamp recipient to a venture capitalist. She sees this book as a chance to empower and inspire readers to “defy other people’s expectations and to become the role models we’ve been looking for.”

Arlan continues to advocate against discrimination in Silicon Valley, paving paths for women like her through the platform she created for herself. She hopes to continue breaking barriers and making way for these underrepresented founders, and we are rooting for her.


And with that, we hope you enjoyed our little pride feature! We hope that the stories of these amazing women could inspire you to continue breaking barriers — with pride

REFERENCES

Cabato, R. (2018). 5 Filipino LGBTQ scientists and inventors you should know about. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from https://cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/2018/06/26/filipino-lgbtq-scientists-and-inventors.html

Gravity Speakers. (n.d.). Arlan Hamilton. Retrieved from https://gravityspeakers.com/speaker/arlan-hamilton/

Harris, A. (2018). Memo to the Silicon Valley boys’ club: Arlan Hamilton has no time for your BS. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/90227793/backstage-capitals-arlan-hamilton-brings-diversity-to-venture-capital

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