June is Pride Month, where people across the globe show support for LGBTQIA+ rights, culture, and community. This month, and every month, we are proud to stand with all our LGBTQIA+ colleagues to celebrate Pride – the freedom to be themselves, no matter how they identify or who they love. To that end, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Anna Schaap, a Senior Systems Engineer here at Quantcast. In this interview, Anna tells us why she helped form Quantcast’s Pride Alliance employee resource group, how she’s going to celebrate Pride Month, who has inspired her, and what advice she would offer to other LGBTQIA+ individuals in tech.
1. First, tell the world about your role at Quantcast.
I am a Senior Systems Engineer here at Quantcast. I do a bit of everything in my role on the Common Tools and Services team. We build tools used throughout the company and are responsible for maintaining many of the low-level systems.
I am also the chair of the Pride Alliance employee resource group at Quantcast.
2. You helped to form our Pride Alliance resource group at Quantcast in 2016 and have taken on a leadership role. Can you explain why having this employee resource group makes a difference in the workplace?
The Pride Alliance employee resource group at Quantcast is a place for queer Quantcasters to come together and build community, as well as being a place to talk about concerns which affect us. Just this morning, one of our new interns who is nonbinary posted that they were so happy to see that the group existed and was excited to connect with people at the company.
3. As we celebrate Pride Month, can you tell us why it’s important to you?
Pride Month is literally my holiday period. Since my first Pride in 2009, June has been my holiday season. My birthday is two weeks before Pride, and I love to get together with my friends to celebrate me, the summer, and my community. The last two years have been rough, but I am so excited to be able to celebrate in person again this year!
I don’t celebrate most of the traditional American holidays. When I transitioned, I was disowned by my family right before Thanksgiving and Christmas. It really reinforces how much I care for those who have supported me, and I love celebrating that during Pride.
4. Do you have any role models who have inspired you?
I have always had to be my own advocate when it comes to support systems, starting in college when I started Bi Pride, and continuing through to present day. Through my activism I have met many amazing leaders such as Robyn Ochs, along with plenty of others, all who have inspired me to grow as a person.
5. What advice would you give to other LGBTQIA+ individuals in tech?
While tech is relatively accepting of queer people in comparison to many other fields, it can still be a challenge to be accepted. Being your genuine self at work can be challenging, but is worth it for your long-term mental and physical health, as well as your long-term career.
Don’t let companies change you; change them instead!
6. What are you doing to celebrate Pride this month?
I’m heading to the feminist camping party Fabulosa on my birthday to celebrate with friends. The Friday before the San Francisco Pride Parade is Trans March and has been my “floating holiday” for years. Saturday is Dyke March; it’s always fun to hang out in Mission Dolores Park before marching with everyone!
On Sunday, I’ll drive the “Helmet Truck” for Dykes on Bikes, checking riders’ helmets so they don’t have to wear them in the parade. Maybe you will see me out there following the bikes, honking and waving!
As you celebrate Pride this month, give some thought to how both you and your company can create a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ members of your organization. To learn more, read Anna’s blog post, 3 Ways to Support the LGBTQ+ Community at Work as well as Jason Miller’s suggestions for encouraging LGBTQIA+ support throughout the year in Beyond Pride Month: Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community Year-Round.