Frank Jania
Founding Engineer | betaworks | Out in Tech, Google, Invite Media

What do you do, professionally?

I’m a software engineer primarily. I’ve also been a manager, a technology evangelist, and a team lead.

Has your sexuality initially shaped your career decision?

Initially, it didn’t at all. I was set on working in software / engineering professionally.

Has that changed over time?

As I got to know more people whose career was affected by how open they felt they could be in the workplace, having one that was welcoming became an important factor I’d consider in any new job.

When and how did you open up to your company about your sexuality?

Shortly into my first assignment (working on the 2000 Olympic Games for IBM) I found a welcoming environment in my immediate colleagues, so I mentioned, off hand, that I was going to the gay pride parade when they asked me what I was up to that weekend.

What’s your experience of being a LGBTQ+ person in tech been like?

I can’t say I’ve encountered any discrimination because of my sexuality (overt, or otherwise). Every place that I’ve worked has either had explicit anti-discrimination policy, or wasn’t a place I where I’d think one was needed because of how open the environment was.

In what way has your sexuality influenced what companies to apply to?

I’ve found that, for the most part, tech companies aren’t places where sexuality is a stumbling block, so I don’t worry too much about it, but it *is* something that I check into before I proceed with an offer.

What would make your work environment or the tech industry as a whole more LGBTQ+ friendly?

My experience has been as a white, gay, cis male so my personal perspective is from there. I do think that, in some sectors for sure, the tech community needs to grow up. There are many companies, particularly new startups, where the vibe in the office is much closer to a college dorm than an office. This is the kind of environment where it would be hard to have any form of diversity. If you can make the workplace more generally inclusive of anyone, LGBT people of all kind will be better off too.

What advice would you give to queer employees entering the tech industry?

I think that the best advice I can give would be to go with your instinct, and be deliberate.

For some people, this means letting their career aspirations lead and working someplace where you’re putting your personal life to the side, and the company is unconcerned about what your gifts outside of your profession can bring to bare.

For others the call to bring their whole selves to work every day may be the guiding factor and you might turn down a job that is attractive “on paper” because playing the pronoun game, or not feeling like you can talk about your personal life feels like a dreadful way to spend most of your days.

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