07 April, 2014

More on the importance of LGBTQ visibility

We've previously posted David K. Smith's discussion about the importance of LGBTQ visibility in STEM workplaces, particularly academia—he's recently expanded that discussion in a column for Chemistry World, and a Flagship Lecture at the University of Liverpool. And, fortunately, there's video of that lecture. Some preliminary results from Queer in STEM make an appearance—it's great to see folks making use of the data already:

12 March, 2014

Are out LGBTQ faculty less comfortable?

Allison and I were recently excited to see a new paper in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, which presents the first nationwide study of queer experiences in STEM workplaces—in other words, the first study that starts to address the questions that inspired the Queer in STEM project. But what that study finds is a surprising contrast to our own results.

Eric Patridge (the president of oSTEM) worked with Ramón Barthelemy and Susan Rankin to reanalyze data from Campus Pride's 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People [PDF]. That survey had 279 responses from LGBTQ faculty members, 130 of which worked in STEM fields. Patridge and his coauthors separated out 83 faculty in the social sciences, leaving 47 STEM faculty members. Similarly to our survey, the Campus Pride study asked participants to rate how "out" they were on a scale of 1 to 5, and also asked how comfortable they were on campus as a whole, in their departments, and specifically in classroom settings.

The result is surprising, especially in comparison to our own data: of the STEM faculty who answered the Campus Pride survey, those who who rated their "outness" level as 4 or 5 were much more likely to say they were uncomfortable in their department.

Queer in STEM in NASPA Knowledge Communities

The new 2014 NASPA Knowledge Communities publication [PDF] includes a preview of the Queer in STEM dataset, presenting summary information about study participants and the relationship between outness and workplace climate ratings. We're very pleased to have been invited to contribute to the Knowledge Communities publication—and to connect the results of the study to folks who might be interested in NASPA's membership of student affairs professionals.

09 January, 2014

Queer in STEM in Nature

A new article by Cameron Walker for the careers section of the journal Nature takes a look at LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. Walker particularly cites some of our preliminary results, but she also does a great job putting them in personal context:

Scientists do not always share their personal sides in the lab. Deciding whether to be open about one's identity can be an acute issue for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) researchers. Unlike some other minorities, LGBT people “have the ability to conform, because it's not always a visible trait”, [chemist Benny] Chan says. But hiding something as basic as sexual orientation or gender identity can be detrimental to mental health and work. “You need to spend a lot of extra energy if you feel like you need to hide a part of your life,” says Chan.




03 December, 2013

Why visibility matters

In a great new video, chemist and science educator David K. Smith breaks down the importance of visibility for queer folks working in the sciences—because who we elevate as role models helps determine what GLBT kids envision themselves doing in the future. And, right now, science really isn't where we're finding queer role models.

21 November, 2013

How representative is our sample?

We're currently working on writing up the key results of the online survey for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but something has come up in the course of writing that seems worthy of a small update here: the question of how well we've managed to sample LGBTQ-identified folks working in STEM.

Because there isn't any central listing of queer folks working in the sciences, we used a "snowball sampling" approach, via social media, asking survey participants to forward links to the survey site to their friends. This is a good way to find study participants from populations that aren't readily visible, but that do have strong social ties. However, it also means that the sample of participants we end up with may be limited by the breadth of the social networks we're able to tap.

28 October, 2013

Queer in STEM on Autostraddle

We're flattered to be the subjects of an entire profile over at Autostraddle, part of Vivian Underhill's great series on "Queered Science." There's even an artist's rendering of us hard at work in the field:


The article also gets into the genesis of the Queer in STEM project:

Allison had done some work on queer issues previously, on "discrimination in school settings, transnational queer migration, and identity development." So Jeremy asked Allison what she thought about the idea of a survey of a nation-wide sample of queer scientists – as a social scientist, did she think results like that would be publishable? "I responded, 'are you asking me to teach you about doing research with human subjects? Sure!'"

You should definitely go read the whole thing.