By signing up you accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
Image Credit: OkCupid

Meet The Queer Product Designer Behind OkCupid’s Inclusive Pronouns Feature

Below is an article about PowerToFly Partner OkCupid, originally written by Clare Kenny, the Director of Youth Engagement at GLAAD, and published on October 1, 2018. Go to OkCupid's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

Once a fringe phenomenon, dating apps have become a mainstream way for people of all backgrounds, locations, and interests to date, make friends, hook up, and—sometimes—find love. While some online users enjoy the newfound normalcy of dating apps without harassment, the same cannot be said for all users.

LGBTQ people—especially those who live outside of traditional expectations of gender identity and expression—are often subjected to high rates of ridicule and hateful language online. Dating apps are no exception.

Apps like OkCupid, though, are working to change this climate by allowing daters to express themselves more accurately on the app. OkCupid looks to make a positive impact in the lives of all LGBTQ people by focusing on representation on the app and behind the scenes. That's why when it came time to update, OkCupid enlisted their Product Designer, Rowan Rosenthal, who identifies as Agender and uses they/them/theirs pronouns, to take the lead in adding a pronouns feature to the app.

Like many of us in the LGBTQ community, Rowan is no stranger to the ways and woes of digital romance. In order to learn more about the positive impact updates like these can have on users, community members, and companies alike, we asked them to walk us through their journey being a part of revolutionizing LGBTQ inclusivity at OkCupid.

Tell us about the OkCupid platform update: What changed, what was added?

Daters are now able to enter their pronouns in the details section of their profile. We've included the most common options "she/her", "he/him", and "they/them," as well as an option to write-in your own. (The write-in section can also accommodate sets of pronouns, i.e. "she/her and they/them.") This information is displayed publicly anytime someone views your profile.

What was your role in the OkCupid update to include pronouns on the app?

I identified the need for this feature via 1:1 interviews with queer folks who use OkCupid. To further validate this need I looked at the data surrounding existing pronoun usage—tens of thousands of members had already mentioned their pronouns in their profile, despite having no dedicated space for it. I designed pronouns to live alongside other prominent details on member profiles, as it's a critical and basic point of information about you.

Why is it important for dating apps to include features like a pronouns section?

It's essential for dating apps, or any app really, to create space for the fullest expression of identity possible. This is critical for dating apps specifically, though. As a member of a dating app, you're trying to convey your true self—putting it all out there in hopes that someone else on the app is interested in who you are. Including a dedicated space for identity & pronouns allows the person seeing you to get a fuller and more accurate sense of that. It also helps those who use pronouns that society typically doesn't use/recognize feel like this space is for them. Making sure to including pronouns, more gender identities, and more orientations goes a long way towards creating that sense of inclusivity.

Image credit: OkCupid, 2018.

What advice do you have for LGBTQ people, especially trans and non-binary people, who have been skeptical of using dating apps?

Dating apps are an amazing place to meet like-minded queer folks that you wouldn't be able to get to know otherwise, especially when your daily life might involves mostly interactions with mostly straight & cis folks. We understand that there can be other challenges when you're non-binary or trans—I know this firsthand. However, the biggest benefit to using a dating app, whether you're LGBTQ or not is that you can signal what you're looking for and what you're about. That's why at OkCupid we ask you 15 questions about yourself and you can filter based on what matters to you—meaning you have a better chance of meeting someone who cares about the same things you do. I've always used OkCupid, even before working here, just because I felt more comfortable with the variety of ways I was able to express myself, my identity, and my beliefs on the platform. So, that's (obviously) my recommendation here.

What do you hope non-LGBTQ users of OkCupid learn from this update?

While this update mostly pertains to LGBTQ users, we do hope this change will help to normalize the use of singular they/them, as well as other pronouns, within the dating space.

What is your advice for other companies, in and out of tech, that want to connect and support the LGBTQ community?

Listen. Talk to your LGBTQ users/customers and really listen to what they have to say. You can't assume what they might want, or how your product might be improved for them—you just have to find out, and go from there. Solicit feedback, do your research, and don't be afraid of criticism. That's the best way to build trust and inclusivity.

Clare Kenny is the Director of Youth Engagement at GLAAD. She leads GLAAD's Campus Ambassador Program, Rising Stars Grants Program, and amp series. Clare is a graduate of Skidmore College.


How These Companies Are Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.

That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.


The Outlook That Helps CSL’s Paula Manchester Invest in Herself and Her Team

If you told Paula Manchester that you weren't good at math, she wouldn't believe you.

"That's a global indictment," she says. "'I'm not good at math' implies that you don't have the ability to nurture that muscle. And then I'd ask what kind of math? There's a lot to math."

LogMeIn Inc.

Behind-the-Scenes: Sales Interview Process at LogMeIn

Get an inside look at the interview process for sales roles at LogMeIn, one of the largest SaaS companies providing remote work technology, from Michael Gagnon, Senior Manager of Corporate Account Executive Sales.

Procore Technologies Inc

How Being an Open Member of the LGBTQIA+ Community Has Helped Procore’s Alex Zinik Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work

Alex Zinik wasn't surprised that she started her career in education—she decided she would become a teacher when she was just in third grade.

She was surprised while working as a paraeducator in the school system and preparing to become a special education teacher, she discovered that it didn't feel quite right. "I didn't know if that's what I really wanted to do," she recalls.

So a friend suggested she take a job during her off summers at construction software company Procore. She thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out this new challenge, and if she needed to, she could go back to the school district once the summer was over.

"Five summers later, I'm still here!" she says, smiling. "And I see myself here for many more years. I just fell in love with the company, the culture, and with the career growth opportunities I was presented with."

As part of our Pride month celebrations, Alex, currently the Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO at Procore, sat down with us to share how a common fear—the fear of being found out—underlay the imposter syndrome she felt when pivoting to an industry in which she lacked experience, and the anxiety she often felt before coming out to her friends and family about her sexuality.

Read on for her insight on overcoming negative thought patterns, being yourself, and paying it forward.


How Afterpay’s Emma Woods Seeks Out Growth for Herself and Her Team

When Emma Woods decided to take her children out of school for six months and homeschool them while traveling around Australia in a caravan, it wasn't the first time she found a way to balance personal and professional growth. It was just a more extreme version of the types of choices she had been making throughout her career.

Emma started her career in the world of telecommunications, moving from IC to team manager, then to contract positions when she had her children and needed flexible scheduling. Now in her current role as an Engineering Manager at payment platform Afterpay, Emma continues to find ways to manage her personal and professional growth, and her family's well-being.

© Rebelmouse 2020