14 August, 2015

Queer in STEM in Nature News

Marla Broadfoot has a very nice article in Nature News about the results reported in our newly published paper.

The results indicated that the majority of the respondents (57%) were out to half or more of their colleagues, a greater proportion than the 47% of people who said they were out in a 2014 survey of the general US workforce by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in Washington DC.

Broadfoot includes quotes from Jeremy and from Kristen Renn, who has done important research on the experiences of minority students in higher education. Go read the whole thing.

05 August, 2015

First peer-reviewed paper reporting Queer in STEM survey results

We're delighted to announce that the first formal academic paper reporting results from the Queer in STEM survey has been published online ahead of print in the Journal of Homosexuality. The points covered in the paper will look familiar to those of you who followed our posting about preliminary analysis:

A survey of individuals working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, or asexual (LGTBQA) was administered online in 2013. Participants completed a 58-item questionnaire to report their professional areas of expertise, levels of education, geographic location, and gender and sexual identities, and rated their work and social communities as welcoming or hostile to queer identities. An analysis of 1,427 responses to this survey provided the first broad portrait of this population, and revealed trends related to workplace practices that can inform efforts to improve queer inclusivity in STEM workplaces.

However, the paper has the benefit of review and comments by experts with knowledge of the broader research context for the results, and includes one big points we haven't made in other print venues. In particular, following an analysis prompted by the reviewers, we found that survey participants who worked in STEM fields with better representation of women were more likely to be out to their colleagues.

Regression with all STEM fields (solid line), p = 0.31;
with Psychology excluded (dashed line), p = 0.02.

This is an interesting result because it suggests a broader phenomenon of gendered culture in STEM workplaces — in fields with fewer women, the climate may be less comfortable for anyone who fails to conform to a straight male gender presentation. This is an issue we're interested in pursuing in further analysis of the survey results, particularly the individual interviews with participants.

The paper is available on the journal website, and in an easier-to-read manuscript format PDF via Jeremy's online publications list.

26 November, 2014

Queer in STEM in New Scientist

The November 8 edition of New Scientist has an in-depth article about queer experiences in scientific workplaces, featuring interviews with Jeremy and with oSTEM President Eric Patridge, the lead author of the study based on Campus Pride survey data.

A lack of visibility of different sexualities in the work environment could discourage others from coming out. And with fewer obvious role models for LGBTQ people, it could harm their chances of finding a mentor – an extremely useful career development tool for any aspiring scientist. "LGBT communities are lacking role models," says Patridge. LGBTQ students may feel more comfortable seeking out mentors similar to them. "The need to find someone of your own identity is something that we see in a lot of minority groups," says Yoder.

16 September, 2014

Nature News on queer experiences in science

We're delighted to see that Nature News has included an in-depth piece on queer folks' experiences in scientific workplaces as part of a special feature on diversity in science. Reporter M Mitchell Waldrop even provides good discussion of the diversity of identities within the queer community, including issues specific to trans* folks, and the intersection of sexual, racial, and ethnic identities—all issues that we've tried to grapple with in the Queer in STEM survey.

“Every time I’d start a course I would have to have a very personal discussion with the professor about things like male pronouns,” says Lucas Cheadle, a neuroscience postdoc at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Making the situation doubly difficult was that he transitioned while he was an undergrad­uate at Smith College — a women’s university in Northampton, Massachusetts. “I missed out on a lot of mentorship relations because of the difficulty of explaining,” he says.

Appropriately for a Nature News piece, the article also has some good international perspective. You should definitely go read the whole thing.

29 April, 2014

Queer in STEM mini-symposium Monday, 19 May at CalState Los Angeles

Thanks to a generous intramural grant from California State University Los Angeles, Jeremy will be traveling to LA in a few weeks so we can plan the next steps of the Queer in STEM study in person. And, while we're all in one place, we'd love to meet with local friends of the project. So:

You are invited to a discussion about issues of workplace and educational climate for LGBTQ individuals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics to be held on the Cal State L.A. Campus on May 19, 2014. We will meet for lunch from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Alhambra Room (305) of the CSULA Student Union to engage in a critical conversation about the state of research on these topics in STEM fields, and to brainstorm ways to move efforts forward to make campus spaces and workplaces more inclusive.

Following lunch, there will be a public research presentation open to students, faculty and staff, from 3:00-4:00 p.m., also in the Alhambra Room (here's the flyer for that presentation).

The long-term goal of this project is to work together to improve the experiences of students, faculty, staff, and industry professionals. This event is coordinated by Allison Mattheis (CSULA faculty in the Charter College of Education) and Jeremy Yoder (Postdoctoral Researcher in Plant Biology, University of Minnesota), collaborators on the Queer in STEM research project.

Lunch and parking will be paid for through a CSULA Office of Research Development faculty grant. If you can join us for lunch on May 19, please RSVP here.

If you are unable to join us but would like to be involved in future conversations please email Allison.

23 April, 2014

Two great stories about coming out in academic settings

We've recently seen a couple of lovely stories from researchers who chose to come out at their academic workplaces. The first is from Z.L. "Kai" Burington, an arthropod taxonomist, who describes her experience coming out as trans* on her personal blog:

When I made my gender identity public to the department in early March, my anxiety was decreasing. Graduate students and faculty, with few exceptions, had positive reactions. Many knew or knew of Joan Roughgarden, an evolutionary biologist who transitioned in the late nineties. Some had personal experiences with trans or other queer people. I found friendships had actually strengthened due to my trust.

And the second is from sociologist Shawn Trivette, who describes his reasoning for coming out to students in an interview at Conditionally Accepted:

While personal experience is never the final authority in a field like sociology, it can be a useful illustrative tool, especially in helping students to grasp the real-world experience of sometimes abstract concepts and trends. Since I further theme my Intro class around race, class, gender, and sexuality – and ask my students to articulate their own identities along these lines – it seemed only fair to share equally.

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: