Throughout history, LGBTQIA+ individuals have left indelible marks on society by dispelling stereotypes and contributing to various fields of knowledge. Their contributions, from art to politics, have been significant, yet their presence in STEM fields is often overlooked or marginalized. Throughout the 20th century, pivotal events such as the 1969 Stonewall Riots in the United States, led by figures such as Marsha P. Johnson, a key figure in the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, played a critical role in igniting resistance to discriminatory practices. Likewise, the public march for sexual liberation in Mexico in 1978 demonstrated the community's determination to demand equal rights and social acceptance, with figures like Nancy Cárdenas.
While progress has undoubtedly been made over the decades, the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights is far from over. In several countries, homosexuality is still criminalized, and discrimination persists. The LGBTQIA+ community continues to face numerous challenges, like the turmoil the United States faces.
There is still so much work to be done in STEM; research on this topic is complicated and sparse, and existing studies paint a sobering picture revealing significant underrepresentation of LGBTQIA+ people in STEM fields, where LGBTQ people are 17–21% less represented than expected in STEM fields. According to a Kapor Center for Social Impact study on reasons why LGBT employees left their jobs in tech, LGBT people were most likely to be bullied (20%) and publicly humiliated or embarrassed (24%), both at significantly higher rates than non-LGBTQ employees (13%).
These concerning facts underscore the urgent need to increase visibility and support for the LGBTQIA+ community at STEM. In this blog post, we aim to amplify voices, share experiences, and celebrate the journey of one employee in our organization.
Iván de Gyves is a cis gay DevOps employee whose passion for technology was evident from his early years when his parents gave him a Famicom clone with a keyboard/mouse kit, bundled with a BASIC clone and a 101 games cartridge, sparking his lifelong interest in technology. Although he had not yet discovered his sexuality at the time, the presence of queer coding accompanied him through good and difficult times, often finding solace in music, which was a natural refuge against all adversity. As Iván went through college and met significant queer figures, he experienced an overwhelming sense of relief and belonging. He also mentions that in the past, it would have required having tougher skin to even express without ambiguity that he has a caring, loving, and profoundly intelligent husband.
He appreciates the idea that many LGBT+ individuals have shaped this profession from very different backgrounds, affinities, and hobbies, but all with immense merits behind their backpacks, and that he's a part (even tiny) of that vast collective. Recognizing and embracing these collective merits by individual allies and witnesses further reinforces the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Although Iván has been fortunate to be accepted into his immediate network IT, he acknowledges that his experience is a privilege not shared by all. He stresses the importance of remaining vigilant in corporate decisions and actions that impact the broader LGBTQIA+ community, especially concerning current political issues and the complexity of dealing with them. Still, unraveling the knot is crucial, given the Internet's and IT's value.
Being in Octahedroid, I've grown personally to let myself express who I am without the fear of being ostracized by that. I've also gained a profound awareness of how it is to be a part of a workplace in which you're respected, independently of your own sexuality or gender expression.
At Octahedroid, we firmly believe that diversity fuels innovation and that technology connects us all, breaking down barriers and opening doors to endless possibilities. By sharing Iván's inspiring journey, we aim to increase the visibility and representation of the LGBTQIA+ community within our industry. Let's build a future where creativity knows no boundaries and everyone feels a sense of belonging, acceptance, and pride.