Jun 15 2022

5 Organizations Fostering Tech Careers for LGBTQ Higher Ed Students

These organizations are helping make careers in tech more accessible for LGBTQ students.

Career opportunities in the STEM fields continue to grow, but diversity in the tech industry remains low. According to a Glassdoor report, IT is the second-highest-rated industry for LGBTQ employees, but LGBTQ representation in the tech industry is still below average.

Through scholarships, networking and mentorship programs, some LGBTQ organizations are working to make careers in tech fields more accessible to this historically underserved group of students. Here are five organizations working to promote careers in STEM to LGBTQ higher ed students.

1. Gay Gaming Professionals Offers LGBTQ Service Scholarship

Gay Gaming Professionals is an esports organization whose mission is “to promote, cultivate and unite the professional LGBTQ community with results-based content and programs” focused on education, expertise, employment and entrepreneurship.

Together, GGP and the Entertainment Software Association Foundation sponsor the LGBTQ+ Service Scholarship, which recognizes students pursuing degrees in esports-related fields who have also shown a commitment to their local or national LGBTQ communities.

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2. oSTEM Awards Scholarships and Grad School Assistance

oSTEM, short for Out in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics, is an association for LGBTQ individuals in the STEM community. The organization aims to provide a safe, inclusive environment where members can succeed personally, academically and professionally.

oSTEM is rooted in the academic community. At a 2005 IBM-sponsored student focus group at the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters, participants discussed how to create an inclusive organization that serves LGBTQ STEM students, and oSTEM was born. Today, there are more than 100 student chapters of oSTEM at colleges and universities, and professional chapters in cities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Each year, the organization awards scholarships to LGBTQ students pursing degrees in STEM fields. oSTEM also works with Queer in AI on a funding initiative designed to remove application and test fees as a barrier to graduate school for LGBTQ students in need.

3. Out in Tech Provides Career Development for Students

With more than 40,000 members, Out in Tech is the world’s largest nonprofit community of LGBTQ tech leaders.

Within the larger organization is Out in Tech U, a program focused on equipping young people age 17 to 24 with the skills and connections they need to explore careers in tech. Out in Tech U provides a safe space for LGBTQ young adults to grow personally and professionally, opportunities for these young adults to build upon their knowledge and skills, and a mentorship program that pairs them with tech professionals.

LEARN MORE: How to use analytics in support of university DEI goals.

4. Maven Youth Programs Foster Professional Development

Maven Youth provides a space for LGBTQ youth age 14 to 24 interested in tech to foster that interest through mentorship, internship and apprenticeship programs. This helps them grow their professional networks and build their knowledge and skills in tech. The organization pairs youth with tech professionals to offer advice and guidance.

For young professionals age 19 to 24, Maven Youth offers an Internship Summer Tech Camp, a program designed to help participants land jobs in the tech industry. This summer camp helps young adults build their resumes, brush up on their interviewing skills and grow their digital skills by completing a coding course.

5. Out to Innovate Raises Visibility of LGBTQ Innovators

Out to Innovate is a community of LGBTQ students and professionals in STEM. The group provides education, advocacy, professional development, networking and peer support for its members, and educates all communities about scientific, technological and medical issues affecting LGBTQ people. Out to Innovate has been awarding scholarships to LGBTQ undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in STEM programs since 2011.

Out to Innovate offers a host of career resources, as well as the biennial Out to Innovate Summit, which is a cross-generational conference connecting LGBTQ students with professionals for networking and educational opportunities.

Mentorship is an important aspect of Out to Innovate, and the organization has partnered with MentorNet to offer an e-mentoring program connecting college and graduate students with established professionals in technology fields.

Through its annual Recognition Awards program, the organization spotlights professionals, academic institutions, and other organizations that support LGBTQ professionals in the fields of science and technology. The LGBTQ+ Educator of the Year Award recognizes high school or postsecondary educators who have enabled significant growth for LGBTQ students in STEM.

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