10 LGBTQ innovators in STEM who changed the world

iD Tech in action

This Pride month is the perfect time to highlight the accomplishments of the many LGBTQ innovators in STEM! These fields have been shaped by countless LGBTQ trailblazers, though their names and their stories are too often left out of conversations about their groundbreaking contributions to society. 

It’s time to change that! 

Each of these people changed our world for the better and paved the way for future generations of scientists, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, and inventors.

Brilliant LGBTQ Scientists, Inventors & Trailblazers to Know

Some names you may have heard of, some perhaps not; each of these individuals are inspirational for what they achieved and for their courage.

These amazing people deserve recognition not only for their accomplishments in STEM or, in many cases, their advocacy to help others follow in their footsteps, but as people who persevered through incredible adversity. By learning from their lives and perspectives, we can build a more inclusive future in STEM. 

Sally Ride

As the first American woman in space, Sally Ride broke down barriers and achieved amazing heights as an astronaut. She joined NASA in 1983, the first year women were selected to join space missions. She went on to found Sally Ride Science, a foundation dedicated to promoting literacy diversity in STEM and posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, accepted by her life partner. Tragically, Sally Ride only came out publicly in her obituary. 

Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook is known for shaping the tech giant as we know it today and advocating for developing environmentally friendly products. He made history as the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay in a Bloomberg essay, “Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life.”

Vivienne Ming

A self-professed “mad scientist,” Vivienne Ming co-founded Socos Labs and serves as its CEO in addition to being an author, entrepreneur, and prolific inventor. Her inventions include technology that helps separated families reunite, treat diabetes, and support individuals with bipolar disorder.

Gina Trapani

Gina Trapani, founder of Lifehacker, is an incredibly accomplished software creator who’s been making game-changing technologies for over 20 years. Honored by the White House and recognized for her achievements by publications like The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, and more, Gina regularly contributes her expertise to top tech podcasts. 

Angelica Ross

Angelica Ross is a remarkable businesswoman, self-taught programmer, and activist for transgender rights. Founder of TransTech, she is passionate about empowering transgender youth and professionals in STEM, “At TransTech, we’ve created a space for trans people to come together, work together, laugh together, go to lunch together. There’s strength in numbers. They’re building networks, and down the line they’ll think of each other when it comes to jobs.”

Robert MacPherson

A groundbreaking mathematician, Robert MacPherson co-invented intersection homology in mathematics. In addition to his impressive published works and contributions to his field, he also taught for decades at Princeton University, Brown University, MIT, and the University of Paris. 

Stephanie Lampkin

When Stephanie Lampkin founded Blendoor, her goal was to help recruiters eliminate biases in hiring the best talent. Her vision has become a reality as top companies like Google, Twitter, and Airbnb rely on the technology she developed to build outstanding teams. The advice she’d give her younger self? “The best is yet to come. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees, but in the words of Dori, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” 

Alan Turing

Alan Turing is often called “the father of the computer,” and with good reason. He’s known for creating the Universal Turing Machine, forerunner of the modern computer, along with other essential innovations in computer science. The “Turing Test,” used to measure the sophistication of a computer, is named for him. Turing is also lauded for cracking codes during World War II and his work in mathematics. Despite his many achievements, Turing sadly faced significant persecution during his lifetime. 

Arlan Hamilton

Founder of Backstage Capital, Arlan Hamilton seeks to close opportunity gaps in the tech sphere. She built the investment firm from the ground up, and was homeless at the outset of the venture. Her company invests in founders who are people of color - $15 million to date - and has helped launch 170 startups. 

Frank Kameny

Noted astronomer Frank Kameny taught at Harvard University after serving in the US Army. His work is internationally recognized, and he received a commendation from the White House for his contributions to science. Throughout his life, Frank Kameny vocally advocated for LGBTQ rights. 

Peter Avari

We have Peter Avari to thank for breathing new life to stale PowerPoint presentations! As co-founder and executive chairman of Prezi, Peter Avari is a visionary software developer with a vision to improve how people communicate. To date, Prezi has been used by millions of people with total views in the billions, and the software continues to help share stories and great ideas. 

Inclusion Drives Innovation

This Pride Month (and year-round, of course!), we’d also like to celebrate the 24% of iD Tech’s workforce who identify as LGBTQ+. Celebrating Pride Month is part of our commitment to empowering LGBTQ+ individuals and building a support system of allies. Without inclusion, innovation simply is not possible. 

Central to our efforts to bring inclusion to the forefront of our culture is our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Council. Established in 2018, our team of JEDI’s creates and implements strategies that heighten awareness and educate our team on how to embody iD Tech’s values. 

While six team members comprise the leadership of the JEDI Council, all iD Tech employees are considered the 7th. That means allyship is both company-wide and a lived value for us. 

So, this June, let’s celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with pride! Learn more about iD Tech’s diversity and inclusion initiatives here

A photo of Virginia

Virginia started with iD Tech at the University of Denver in 2015 and has loved every minute since then! A former teacher by trade, she has a master's in education and loves working to embolden the next generation through STEM. Outside the office, you can usually find her reading a good book, struggling on a yoga mat, or exploring the Rocky Mountains.