Each year Pride month comes and goes with me vowing to put fingers to keyboard to write about the importance not only of Pride as a near global event celebrating diversity and equality but also protesting that true equality may still be some way off. This paper isn’t actually about Pride itself but about celebrating those individuals within the LGBT+ community who have had an influence on modern computing and technology in general. As an openly gay man who is in a position of influence within Capgemini, I owe a debt of gratitude to those in history who paved the way for me and others to follow; more on some of these a bit later. More important, though is how current role models within computing, IT, and related industries still need to be openly visible to enable those they can influence to bring their whole selves to work. Without this, we lose creativity, invention free-thinking all of which are key to the continued evolution and revolution of computer science in all its guises.
A nod to the past
Let’s start with Alan Turing; often seen as the father of modern computing and AI. The Turing test for the exhibition of intelligent behaviour developed in 1950 is still seen as influential in determining whether artificial intelligence has been achieved. His earlier work is, of course, well documented where he led the section of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park in World War 2 to decode German cyphers including the infamous Enigma machine thus shortening the war by an estimated two years. Going much further back in time we have Leonardo DaVinci who drew sketches of flying machines including helicopters back in the 15/16th centuries. More recently we have Florence Nightingale who beyond her acclaimed founding of modern nursing was a gifted mathematician and pioneered the visual presentation of information and statistical graphics and developed the pie chart further to create the polar area diagram used to plot cyclic data.
Coming up to date
There are also those in more recent history such as Sally Ride the first USA female astronaut who was a robotic arm operator onboard the Space Shuttle challenger; Joel Simkahi creator of dating app Grindr that appears to have changed the face of dating for everyone with new Apps taking on board the best features.
Now coming up to date there’s Troy Lee Hudson and astrophysicist who works for NASA and got to analyze the data sent back by the Phoenix lander on Mars. He is key to this blog and in some ways is the inspiration for writing today as he made the decision that whenever he represented NASA (actually Jet Propulsion Labs) outside of the office he would wear a Pride badge as a way of combatting LGBT+ invisibility in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) the area that our contribution to Capgemini sits right at the heart of.
And that’s the point, who we are attracted to shouldn’t be a barrier to what we achieve in life. I’m proud to be part of Capgemini an organization that truly embraces diversity and inclusion. But I want to do more and say to anyone to bring their whole self to work and be truly amazing. Who knows what the early pioneers in STEM would have achieved if they hadn’t needed to hide their full self.