Montréal diversity with Lesbians Who Tech and Queer Tech MTL
Montréal has long been a cosmopolitan hub for queer life, and the city’s booming tech sector is embracing and integrating its LGBTQ tech-entrepreneurs with the help of two local community groups, Lesbians Who Tech and Queer Tech MTL.
Queer Tech MTL
Queer Tech MTL was founded in 2016 by Naoufel Testaouni – also Executive Director of Montreal New Tech, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of Montréal startup entrepreneurs – to focus on the needs and activities of LGBTQ tech-entrepreneurs in the city. Diversity and inclusion are the group’s core guiding principles, so non-queer professionals and allies are also welcome.
Some 40 people attended Queer Tech MTL’s first event which was held at the Montréal offices of Shopify. Today, the group has more than 1,100 members.
“We host monthly events to promote tech companies and their relationships with the LGBTQ community, and we have speeches by LGBTQ entrepreneurial leaders, such as SCRUFF co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jason Marchant,” says Queer Tech MTL’s Vice-President and Chief of Communications Jason Behrmann. “We’ve become a well-respected and recognized professional organization, but we also host awesome after-parties!”
Queer Tech MTL also organizes hack-a-thons for several hundred people to upgrade the tech capacities of NGOs like AIDS Community Care Montréal.
“We help them out and show them the new tricks of the trade,” says Behrmann, adding that out-of-towners are always welcome to all of their events.
For more information about Queer Tech MTL, visit queertech.ca.
Lesbians Who Tech
The Montréal chapter of Lesbians Who Tech was founded in 2015 by Rachel Jean-Pierre. An estimated one out of 15 STEM workers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are women, so Lesbians Who Tech helps queer women in the tech workforce be more visible to each other.
Lesbians Who Tech also helps its members connects to other LGBTQ and women’s organizations who are doing community work championing the advancement of women, queer people and their allies.
“My experience is that even though we live in a progressive country like Canada, there is a place for Lesbians Who Tech because homophobia still exists in the workplace, and some people may not be out at the office,” says Rachel Jean-Pierre. “Our group offers them a support network.”
Montréal Lesbians Who Tech has more than 500 members, of which some 90 attend monthly events. “Our events are held in a restaurant or bar, they have a specific theme with presenters who give 10-to-15-minute speeches, and the subjects are always tech-related,” says group Co-Director Rebecca Woodmass.
Woodmass adds the group is culturally diverse and has “managed to bridge the divide between English and French. We are also accessible to tourists from across North America who visit Montréal for a conference, and we have members who travel from Quebec City and other cities who attend our events.”
The group also hosts regular brunches, picnics and hack-o-thons. For more information about Montréal Lesbians Who Tech, visit LWTMTL.com.
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