Lesbians Who Code Spotlight

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Reviewed by Angelique Geehan

Working in tech still comes with its challenges for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Tech professionals overwhelmingly identify as straight, with more than 92% of respondents from a 2020 Stack Overflow survey identifying as heterosexual.

But the tech industry also attracts many young people, who are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+. Groups such as StartOut and Lesbians Who Tech have also created inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ tech professionals.

For Pride Month, we're spotlighting members of the LGBTQ+ community in the tech industry. Here's what Charlotte Louise Robinson — a lesbian who codes — has to say about her experience.

Meet a Lesbian Who Codes

Portrait of Charlotte Louise Robinson

Charlotte Louise Robinson

Charlotte Louise Robinson is a software engineer and blogger based in Chicago. Charlotte completed her undergrad and postgrad courses at Caltech. She has been working in this field since 2014. Charlotte came out as a lesbian in 2016. She cites coming out as inarguably one of the best decisions she has ever taken. However, navigating her sexuality and sexual autonomy in a field largely dominated by men has been a fascinating experience. When not writing code or stuck with a heavy load of data analytics to complete before the end of the week, you can find Charlotte reading a book, engaging in gardening, or writing for her blog.

Charlotte now works as a software engineer and blogger based in Chicago. Her interest in computers dates back decades,all the way to her childhood.

"My dad was very enthusiastic about tech in general and made sure that trait was passed on to myself and my sister," Charlotte says. "By the age of 15, I had started to learn a couple of programming languages along with some of my buddies from school."

So when it came time to look into education and job opportunities, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-blown career. Charlotte has been working in the field since 2014 — two years before she came out as a lesbian.

The Coding Bootcamp Experience

After attending college at the California Institute of Technology, Charlotte attended several bootcamps to help her gain expertise and hone her programming skills: Thinkful and Hack Reactor in Los Angeles, the Flatiron School in New York City, and General Assembly in Chicago.

"Overall, it was a very positive experience. They teach you in a very result-oriented and practical manner, and it is very helpful in gaining experience if you wish to pursue a career in coding," Charlotte says.

Charlotte's experience was a good one, but she warns people interested in bootcamps that coding bootcamps aren't necessarily a magic bullet. It's important to identify your specific career goals and find a bootcamp that caters to those goals.

"Coding bootcamps are not the be-all and end-all of coding, and going to one doesn't necessarily imply you will have a fruitful experience," Charlotte says. "Make sure to pick bootcamps based on what language you wish to learn and the kind of web development that appeals to you."

Workplace Realities as a Lesbian in Tech

When it comes to general advice, Charlotte warns aspiring tech pros that even the most passionate and avid programmers are likely to experience "dreary" periods, like when a client isn't satisfied with any result, or when work can feel monotonous or repetitive.

Working in tech as a member of the LBGTQ+ community can come with some mixed experiences, as well.

If your company's culture and/or management don't promote inclusiveness, you may be able to find a support structure with some of your coworkers or through LGBTQ+ professional associations.

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"I don't think that I have faced any issues on account of being a lesbian, other than some untoward comments behind my back by a handful of senior employees," Charlotte recalls. "I have chosen not to dignify such comments with a response," she says. "Other than that, in a purely professional sense, I have not faced any particular obstacles."

LGBTQ+ tech professionals who do experience harassment in the workplace can respond in a variety of different ways, including seeking legal advice or reporting any discrimination to HR—or even to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If your company's culture and/or management don't promote inclusiveness, you may be able to find a support structure with some of your coworkers or through LGBTQ+ professional associations.

"Although I wouldn't say that my employer has taken any proactive steps to make the workplace more inclusive to us, the work culture is still extremely positive," Charlotte says. "Everyone pays close attention to ensure that workplace culture and banter at the coffee machine never grows into a system of subjugation and belittling of colleagues."

Insight From a Lesbian Who Codes

Overall, Charlotte reports her experience of the tech industry as generally a welcoming place for lesbians and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

"Almost all major employers in this field have a relatively young workforce and all of them have a very positive workplace culture and practices when it comes to catering to the needs and challenges faced in ensuring a diverse and mutually respectful workplace," Charlotte says.

She admits that the industry isn't perfect, and women and minorities continue to face systemic prejudices. Luckily, many tech organizations have support systems in placeso that workers who encounter the negative effects of bias can receive support from their employer, who can then deal with it accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Bootcamps

Should I attend a coding bootcamp or earn a college degree in a field like computer science?

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It depends on your career goals. Bootcamps and college degrees both have their pros and cons. Bootcamps offer quick, intensive programs for individuals who don't want to spend years in college. But college programs feature general education classes and broader computer science training. Bootcamps are often less expensive -- although not always -- while colleges and universities may come with more opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.

Should I consider a coding bootcamp if I've already earned a college degree?

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If you majored in a different field in college, then it may make sense to consider a coding bootcamp. However, even if you did study computer science in college, advanced coding bootcamps can help you learn additional skills and tools, or switch to a different specialization within the industry.

Do bootcamp prep programs improve your chances of getting into a bootcamp?

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Bootcamp prep programs won't necessarily guarantee your admission into a bootcamp. However, if you complete a prep program, you're showing bootcamp admissions representatives that you're committed to learning coding. These introductory programs can also help you begin a bootcamp with greater confidence, since you've got a head start on your coding skills.

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Reviewed by:

Portrait of Angelique Geehan

Angelique Geehan

Angelique Geehan works to support and repair the connections people have to themselves and their families, communities, and cultural practices. A queer, Asian, gender-binary, nonconforming parent, Geehan founded Interchange, a consulting group that offers anti-oppression support. She organizes as part of several groups, including National Perinatal Association's Health Equity Workgroup, the Health and Healing Justice Committee of the National Queer and Trans Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, QTPOC+ Family Circle, and Batalá Houston.