30+ diversity and inclusion activists and organisations I look up to
I’m not a massive fan of listicles, and I feel like they could become exclusionary very easily, but I wanted to talk about a few individuals and organisations I look up to on a daily basis in the space of diversity and inclusion. The content they share can often be challenging, which is why it’s so important to expose yourself to different viewpoints promoting our growth.
This list isn’t by any means exhaustive — it’s a curated selection acting as a guidepost for seeking more knowledge, viewpoints, and individuals to follow and support.
Here we go!
Erica, now Senior Engineering Manager at Patreon, is an incredibly active diversity and inclusion advocate. A Project Include founding member; she’s also an advisor and mentor for such great initiatives as Girl Develop It, Hack the Hood and Black Girls Code.
In the past, she has challenged the issue of unequal pay at her former employer, Google, and started RealDiversityNumbers hashtag, highlighting the importance of retention and other statistics that weren’t shared in surfacing diversity and inclusion reports.
If there’s anyone who will certainly make you feel like you’re valued, it’s Erica.
Ellen is a co-founder of Project Include, a non-profit organization accelerating diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Ellen is also heavily involved in Kapor Center for Social Impact. Recently, she published “Reset: My fight for inclusion and lasting change” — a detailed account of her trial against venture capital powerhouse, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, carefully examining toxic, homogenous Silicon Valley culture.
For many (myself included) Ellen’s courage and relentless fight against the exclusionary status quo is not only admirable but fuelling our own, daily fight for a better future. The Pao Effect has enabled many other women to stand up and fight for their rights, challenging tech giants.
Ashe is one of the first D&I experts I’ve started following. A co-founder at Fund Club, backing projects by and for marginalized individuals. She also started AlterConf — an affordable, traveling series of conferences for underrepresented groups and their supporters in tech and gaming.
Ashe has written extensively on the issues of online harassment and Code of Conducts, creating invaluable resources for conference organizers and community leaders around the world.
Jessica co-founded TransCode with Naomi Ceder, a series of community building hack days for the Trans* community and allies that has stretched across four countries and two continents. She runs numerous initiatives for learning, mentoring and existing in tech, such as Pursuit Podcast.
Kimberly launched Black Girls Code — a fantastic organization providing pre-teen girls of color with opportunities to learn skills in programming and technology. Today, BGC has a tremendous impact, reaching thousands of girls in the USA and South Africa.
Kimberly was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion and continues to be a vocal inclusion activist.
Anika is the CEO of the Travis Foundation — a non-profit initiative aiming to give back and pay forward to the Open Source community. One of Travis’ projects is Diversity Tickets; a platform enabling more diverse tech conference attendance.
She also organizes Rails Summer of Code and Berlin chapter of Rails Girls.
Ola Sendecka and Ola Sitarska
Olas are a Polish super duo. Both are prolific software engineers, and their impact on Django community is unmeasurable. They’ve founded Django Girls, organizing global, free Django and Python workshops for women (so far, over 500 have been run). They both co-organised both Django Under the Hood and DjangoCon Europe, running various comprehensive diversity and inclusion programs.
Cate is a mobile lead at Automattic. She co-runs Technically Speaking, a newsletter aiding in becoming a better speaker and finding events to present at. She writes extensively on the subject of perpetuated exclusion and tech culture — The Day I Leave the Tech Industry, On Improving Diversity in Hiring and We Know Who He Is just to name a few.
Alice is a site reliability engineer and a vocal diversity, inclusion and intersectional feminism advocate. Personally, I live to see Alice’s thoughtful, challenging and often witty tweet storms. She also started WITBragDay hashtag in the aftermath of Google anti-diversity manifesto to empower women to share their accomplishments in STEM.
Susan is an entrepreneur and a seasoned investor. Her long and fruitful career in the tech — as a founder, chief executive of Apache Software Foundation, advisor, or a VC operating executive has exposed her the worst sides of our industry, which is one of the reasons why she’s also one of the co-founders of Project Include. Susan is incredibly vocal about intersectionality and takes no excuses if it comes to diversity and inclusion. Her voice is one of the most fearless ones out there.
Susan is one of few female entrepreneurs speaking out on harassment in venture capital, namely horribly inappropriate behavior of Justin Caldbeck. Personally, she’s one of the most empowering people I’ve ever met in my life.
Aniyia is the founder and CEO of Tinsel — wearable technology company focused on women. She’s also a board member at Women’s Audio Mission, a non-profit providing access to training in music production for women and girls.
She started the Black and Brown Founders Project, a two-day event that provides Black and Latino/a founders with the resources and networks they need to launch their company without having to rely on venture capital.
Sarah is a former VC, turned founder of Proday and a contributing editor at Marie Clarie magazine. She was involved with such organizations as Venture for America, Code2040, and Tech Women, leading efforts to make tech funding more diverse. She was one of the courageous women blowing the whistle on McLure and Chris Sacca.
Leigh is a Technology Fellow at the ACLU’s Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology. Prior she co-founded a feminist space, Seattle Community Workshop, been involved in Double Union in San Francisco, and was a moderator of Geek Feminism wiki.
Leigh has been teaching ally skills, writing exemplary pieces on tech culture on such as The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment (co-authored with Valerie Aurora) and speaking on online harassment, information security, diversity, inclusion and more.
Yassmin is a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer, and broadcaster. Yassmin is the founder of Youth Without Borders — an organization empowering young people to positively change their communities. She also co-runs The Mumtaza Network, normalizing the presence of women of color in a position of power and influence.
She’s is a book author, sits on The Council for Australian-Arab Relations, board of OurWatch and ChildFund. Yassmin is an incredible speaker, writer, and activist and I’d probably run out of space trying to explain the breadth of her work.
Natalia Oberti Noguera
Natalia is the founder of Pipeline Angels, a network creating capital for women an non-binary femme entrepreneurs. Along with Gina Delvac, she runs The Pitch Makeover podcast, empowering bringing more diverse voices to the startup community.
Natalia’s a frequent speaker on angel investing, impact investing, women entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurship, as well as a topic she’s very much passionate about, as an LGBTQ Latina: diversity.
Amélie is a product designer recognized by The White House as a Changemaker at the United State of Women Summit. She runs Good for POC — a list of inclusive and safe work environments for people of color in tech industries. She created Guide to Allyship, a great open source resource for becoming an effective ally.
Amélie is also now on Patreon, seeking to fund for more amazing projects at the intersection of design and inclusion she comes up with.
Kim is a Community Engineer, Organizational Anthropologist, and advocate for diversity, inclusion, and safe spaces in tech.
Kim is running Community Engineering Report, a podcast focused on honest conversations about diversity and inclusion. Additionally, she’s organizing Inclusion Symposium and Inclusion Conf, two events designed to pushing D&I forward. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg of her work.
Valerie is a writer, programmer, and a prolific feminist activist. She co-founded Ada Initiative — an organization supporting women in technology and Double Union — a hacker space for women in San Francisco. With her consultancy, FrameShift, she continues educating on ally skills, code of conduct design and incident response.
Her conference anti-harassment policies were a starting point in building safe, inclusive spaces for many events worldwide. She continues to provide invaluable, comprehensive, open source materials on diversity and inclusion.
Amy, aka sailorhg, is a founder of Bubblesort Zines, a monthly publication explaining computer science concepts in an approachable way.
A strong advocate for femmes belonging in tech, she stretches herself beyond publishing to empower fellow ladies. Just recently she launched “Git it Gurl” t-shirts, that have already successfully sold out.
Jenn is an exceptional engineer, internet artist, and hilarious tech satirist. Some of her projects are used by children to familiarise themselves with the tech platform. She’s also a community organiser — from front-end meetups in New York (JerseyScript!) to one-off conferences about DHTML.
She’s very vocal on the subject tech culture, especially exclusionary tendencies towards women. If I can say one thing about Jenn — she will take no bullshit.
Lena is a past CEO and now VP of Engineering at TravisCI. She specializes in fostering inclusive environments in which diverse groups of people can thrive.
Lena has delivered one of the best diversity and inclusion talks I’ve ever seen, such as Existing in Tech, A Talk about Nothing and Debugging the Tech Industry, taking on challenging subjects of exclusionary tech culture.
Carina C. Zona
Carina is a developer evangelist, conference speaker, and a certified sex educator. She’s also the founder of Callback Women—an initiative to increase gender diversity of presenters at tech conferences, which has helped tremendously with surfacing many talented speakers so far.
Additionally, Carina speaks on the unexpected cultural effects of our decisions as programmers in keynotes such as “Consequences of an Insightful Algorithm.”
Tracy is a seasoned engineer, previously working and leading at renowned startups such as Quora or Pinterest.
She helped to kick off the wave of tech company diversity data disclosures with a Github repository collecting numbers on women in engineering. Tracy is also one of the founding members of Project Include. Her diversity and inclusion activism is unstoppable.
Iljeoma is a speaker, writer, and a vocal inclusive feminist. Her work on race, feminism, and parenting was featured in Time Magazine, New York Times, Huffington Post and more. She is also the Editor-at-Large at The Establishment — an excellent intersectional publication run and funded by women.
Iljeoma is currently writing “So You Want to Talk About Race” — an actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape (to be released January 2018).
Kelly was one of the first engineers to speak up about harassment at one of her previous employers — Google, describing sexist remarks from her supervisors and various ways women were being discriminated against. Just recently, Kelly and a few other female ex-Googlers filed a class action lawsuit against Google.
A very vocal and fearless activist, she calls out inequality, abuse, and exclusion on a daily basis. Because of that, she’s subjected to copious amounts of verbal harassment and threats, but that doesn’t stop her at all. Thank you, Kelly.
Susan was the first one to come forward describing the mortifying culture and harassment perpetuated at Uber, where she worked as a software engineer. Her commitment to challenging the status quo significantly contributed to the downfall of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick. She’s nowhere near done yet though — Susan filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, advocating for ending forced arbitration laws, preventing employees from joining class action lawsuits.
She’s now an Editor in Chief over at Increment — a magazine on building and operating systems at scale.
The Kapor family of organizations works to remove barriers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and tech careers for underrepresented people of color. Kapor also authored The Tech Leavers Study, a comprehensive, national study on why people voluntarily leave jobs in tech.
Project Include is hands-down one of the most comprehensive and actionable set of solutions in the diversity and inclusion space. Founded by great leaders such as Erica Joy Baker, Freada Kapor Klein, Susan Wu, Tracy Chou, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Laura l. Gómez, Bethany McKinney Blount and most importantly, Ellen Pao, it’s a fantastic resource enabling companies to implement meaningful, lasting cultural change.
Valerie Aurora, the founder of FrameShift, has significantly contributed to progressing diversity and inclusion in tech. FrameShift open sources their fantastic Ally Skills Workshop, Conference incident response materials and many other resources allowing to scale creating welcoming, inclusive, diverse cultures.
TransH4CK empowers trans, gender non conforming, agender and nonbinary people through improving access to social services, promoting gender safety and community sustainability while bringing visibility to trans* tech innovators and entrepreneurs. Additionally, Trans*H4CK surfaces transgender stories previously absent from the tech landscape.
Through a variety of programs and fellowships, Code2040 is a great initiative creating opportunities in tech for Black and Latinx talent, aiming to close the achievement, skills, and wealth gaps in the United States.
Codebar is a growing global community facilitating the growth of a more diverse tech communities through regular, free workshops. Currently operating within several cities in Europe, Africa and Australia with an impressive list of coaches.
San Francisco-based Techtonica offers tech apprenticeships with stipends and job placement to Bay Area women and non-binary, feminine-adjacent adults with low incomes. Techtonica has an incredibly comprehensive approach to their free training, providing laptops and covering apprentices’ living and childcare costs amongst many others.
Black Girls Code is set out to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their futures through exposure to computer science and technology. BGC runs regular hackathons, reaching thousands of students worldwide.
Hack the Hood engages the low-income youth of color in technology through website building workshops. The outcomes of their work are targeted towards small businesses within their communities, maximising local impact and developing necessary and real tech skills.
Fund Club, co-run by Model View Culture and AlterConf, raised over $200,000 to numerous initiatives for mental health, diversity, inclusion, anti-harassment and more. Pledge $100 a month to support hand-picked organizations.
Rails Girls Summer of Code is a global fellowship program aimed at bringing more diversity into Open Source. RGSoC winner teams receive a three-month scholarship to work on selected Open Source projects. The program also sponsors conference attendance.
Women Who Code is a global community empowering women to excel in technology fields through resources, job boards, conference scholarships and other member benefits. Totalling more than 100,000 engineers, designers, managers, executives and other technologists the network reports a positive impact on members’ careers.
Similarly to FrameShift, Paradigm offers a range of workshops, training and assessments aiding in diversity, inclusion, belonging, retention and more.
PS. If you’re on this list but for any reason you’d prefer to be removed, please comment or email me and I’ll do so immediately.
This article is made possible by lovely Patreon supporters, backing my diversity and inclusion efforts. I intend to publish on D&I topics once a week and create reusable resources, guides, and apps. Support it if you’re inclined.