There’s a joke that people who work in tech are some of the most isolated people in the world, despite seemingly ubiquitous happy hours. That can be doubly true for tech workers with marginalized identities. That’s why Out in Tech exists.
As an international networking organization for LGBTQ+ workers in tech, Out in Tech provides a space for members to learn about career opportunities while figuring out ways to use technology for change.
Throughout the world, there are roughly 30 chapters. If Ross Greenberg and Todd Feiler have their way, Steel City will have a thriving chapter of its very own.
“Out in Tech prioritizes inclusion and belonging on multiple fronts — more so, honestly, than a lot of other organizations I’ve been a part of in my life,” Feiler said. “it’s not just for software engineers, it’s not just for 10 year plus technologists. It’s for people, it’s for college students who might want to get interested in technology. It’s for anyone who’s even interested in technology.”
As someone who’s not an engineer, Greenberg says that the org not catering only to technologists was a part of the appeal since he’s usually occupied positions as an experience manager. Feiler, on the other hand, is the cofounder and CEO of Ringlet, a digital hub that helps users make new connections. As Pittsburgh natives, they both figured that after high school, their time in the city had come and gone — that is, until the pandemic struck and brought them home from New York. Part of why Greenberg and Feiler stuck around even as the restrictions lifted was because they missed the proximity to their families. Additionally, Feiler said, he realized that in the time he’d been gone from the city, its tech sector had grown.
“Look back 10, 20 years ago, I was really interested in building out my technology career and I really thought I had to leave Pittsburgh to do that,” Feiler said. “And now, what I found out coming back is that’s really not the case. There’s a thriving technology industry here — plus, with remote potential.”
They both acknowledged that while Pennsylvania hasn’t been one of the states seeing harsh legislation targeting LGBTQ people, it’s still easy to feel invisible. When Greenberg and Feiler hosted the Out in Tech Pride month happy hour, there was a turnout of 12 people. Still, the fact that some people drove from 45 minutes outside of the city, Greenberg said, is evidence of how needed a group like this is in Pittsburgh.
“It was a really nice way to bring people together and now it makes it much easier for us to know who the other people are on the chat, on the Slack channel,” Greenberg said.
Moving forward, both Feiler and Greenberg have many ideas for what events the group can host, which they imagine will be a mix of educational programming, professional networking opportunities and social functions. Ultimately, at such a precarious time for LGBTQ people throughout the country, both Greenberg and Feiler say they’d like this group to be a part of making Pittsburgh more welcoming for its LGBTQ community.
“[It involves] having a once-monthly social meeting, whether it’s at a bar or a park, or we go bowling — I don’t know, just something so we can get people together, get them out of their home offices or real offices and just form that community so it becomes a more friendly environment,” Greenberg said. “And then, I think there’s so much we can learn from each other.”Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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