WEST Wisdom Blog

STEM Women in the LGBTQ+ Community Working Towards a Stronger World

Posted by Courtney Cyron on Jun 29, 2023 9:00:00 AM

LGBTQ+ SeriesThe LGBTQ+ Community has always been part of every community. There are scientists, researchers, project managers, clinical trial leaders and participants, technology developers, computer scientists, and more who are incredible parts of the STEM community that are also members of the LGBTQ+ community. These amazing people are making groundbreaking discoveries, changing our world for the better, and founding some of the most supportive organizations. Check out just a few of the amazing women below who are the perfect example of these communities coming together and how they are helping to build stronger science and a stronger world one day at a time. 

President Barack Obama chose Megan Smith as the first ever female Chief Technology Officer2-Jul-02-2023-12-00-23-4889-AM to the United States in 2014. Smith jumped right into the world of tech after getting a degree in mechanical engineering at MIT. She worked at General Magic, Inc., where she helped develop one of the first prototypes for a smartphone touch screen. She moved on to Google, where she spent nine years as the vice president of New Business Development and helped the company secure Google Earth and Google Maps. From working at media companies that raise awareness of LGBTQ issues to speaking at conventions about the importance of LGBTQ representation in tech, Smith is an amazing example of LGBTQ women making a huge difference in their fields.

Leanne Pittsford founded Lesbians Who Tech, an organization aimed to create more3-Jul-02-2023-12-00-43-4498-AM networking opportunities for queer women in STEM, shortly after finishing college. It took off quickly and, before long, Pittsford became a prominent advocate for LGBTQ women in her field and beyond. She even organized an LGBTQ Tech Summit at the White House in 2016. Pittsford is an active role model who is making it her life’s work to prioritize support for queer women in STEM.



Carolyn Bertozzi is a chemist at Stanford and has been an advocate for open access to 4-3 information, especially scientific studies. She was a founding member of the American Cancer Society’s peer-reviewed journal that’s available online for free to all readers. In addition to getting valuable information out to the public, Bertozzi has offered professional guidance to various start-ups that research potential cancer treatments. In her personal life, she is an out lesbian and even won the GLB Scientist of the Year Award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals in 2007.


Emma Haruka Iwao made headlines in March of 2019 for calculating Pi to 31 trillion digits, 5-1 smashing the previous record of 22 trillion. Coincidentally, she broke the record on March 14, AKA “Pi Day.” Iwao was excited about her victory, particularly because she felt it would increase visibility in her field. She works as a developer for Google. Calling herself an “openly queer woman,” Iwao expressed hope her achievements would inspire others in the LGBTQ community to excel in their chosen professions.

These are just a few of the amazing women in the LGBTQ+ community who are changing the world through their STEM careers. WEST is proud to highlight women in STEM professions from all backgrounds, and welcomes these, and all other STEM professionals to join us for our upcoming events!

Topics: Community, Inspire, Culture, Innovation, Influence, Inspiration, Confidence, Career Possibilities, Empowerment, Inclusion, Diversity, D&I, 20 Inspirational Leaders, Identity, LGBTQIA+, Ally, Allyship

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