In honor of Pride Month, we reached out to SWE’s LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group to gather some advice and words of wisdom for the next generation of LGBTQ+ engineers.
What advice or words of wisdom would you share with the next generation of engineers who are trying to figure out—or become comfortable with—who they are? What do you know now that you wish you’d known (or heard from someone) when you were growing up?
“Cisgender engineers need to be comfortable with who WE are and who they are — we are marvelous and brilliant … People outside our community need to change and reflect the most. Their attitudes and behaviors affect us — not the other way around. The imperative is not on us. It is on them.”
“Trust in yourself, and your colleagues. It may be scary to share your sexuality or gender identity at work, especially since engineering is stereotypically cis-het male dominated. If you’re ready to come out, trust your gut on when your own “right” time to do so is, and don’t feel pressured by any outside sources (national coming out day, Pride month, etc.). If you have great existing relationships with your peers, have confidence that those relationships will only improve when you can share your full self with them. People will notice your increased happiness and reflect it right back to you. When I came out as trans, I had some of the best conversations with co-workers in my professional career so far, even with people who I didn’t talk to as much. It was so great to have such support from everyone on my team. Those who weren’t as understanding backed off quietly when they saw how many people were giving support in daily interactions.“
“I simply didn’t get caught up in pre-conceived gender roles established mostly by 1950’s households in the USA & Baby Boomers. They “made up” how they felt society should be. In turn, my generation questioned authority and set its own concepts of how society should be. I was in the tail-end of the punk era, and beginning of heavy metal. Each generation must reflect on the previous generations and decide what they feel is right. I believe gender roles should never be forced on anyone and allowance is made for the few I know that choose to adhere to them.”
“Don’t waste time on fear for what you know is true. While many people will give you advice, their focus will be more on themselves instead of your own well being. Don’t wait to let it come to a head before having to be true to yourself.”