‘Apathy is Not an Option’: At Lesbians Who Tech, the Personal is Very Political

by | Mar 31, 2017 |

For generations, the Bay Area has been a hotbed of liberal activism, with UC Berkeley synonymous with anti-war protests and civil unrest in the 1960s. Over the years, as the area gentrified and the tech industry took over the region, Silicon Valley became a place where you went to change the world by starting a company, rather than through activism or politics.

Before, politics felt “kind of a little dirty, and maybe beneath them”, as a radically idealistic strain of libertarianism steered tech entrepreneurs into founding companies they believed could solve big problems more efficiently, while the government acted as a force to invest in citizens and smooth the path to private sector innovation. Under the Obama Administration, tech and government worked hand-in-hand to make government more nimble and efficient, to help policy-makers keep up-to-date with innovations, and to leverage Silicon Valley’s traditions of immigrant entrepreneurs as a tool of U.S. soft power and diplomacy around the world.

But the election changed something in the Valley. Today, with a Trump Administration that is openly hostile to immigrants, willfully ignorant of innovations trends, and views the world in apocalyptic terms, tech workers are finding it’s not enough to act like things are business as usual. Programmers and engineers and product managers are volunteering with non-profits in their off-hours, walking off the job or marching in protest, and—perhaps most effectively—pushing back against any sign of their employers cozying up to the new administration’s policies.

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