21 October, 2016

Queer in STEM in Chemical Engineering News

The latest issue of Chemical Engineering News has an in-depth article about LGBTQ experiences in chemistry careers, particularly focusing on individual people's stories.

Nine months pregnant, Kyle F. Trenshaw recently grappled with what to wear to a job interview. “Here I am, trans dude, super pregnant, and they want me to come in for a job interview,” says Trenshaw, a postdoc in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at Brown University who is in the process of transitioning from female to male.
“I was like, ‘What the heck do I wear?’ ” He opted for a button-down shirt, elastic waist khaki pants, nice shoes, and a tie.

Queer in STEM's resident chemist, Daniel Cruz-Ramirez de Arellano, is quoted summing up our wishes for the project: “Hopefully, the newer generation can feel inspired and say, ‘There is a place for me in STEM even though I am queer.’ ”

Go read the whole article, and if you haven't taken our new survey and sent it to all your queer and straight colleagues, hurry up and do it! We're still taking responses, but sampling will conclude by the end of next month.

26 July, 2016

Queer in STEM in Wired

In a great new article for Wired Magazine, Sarah Scoles covers the history of Queer in STEM and our new survey. Scoles talked to Allison, Joey, Daniel, and Jeremy, as well as other LGBTQ scientists including Alex Bond and LGBT STEM creator Elizabeth Hellen, for some great detail of queer experiences in science.

If you haven’t been a queer person, you might be asking yourself why this survey is necessary. “It’s 2016. Get over it already,” you may be thinking. “I love everyone and am rainbow-blind. Also, some of my best friends are gay.” It’s true that there’s less overt discrimination than in the past. But in 28 states, it’s still legal for employers to discriminate against someone for their sexual or gender identity.

Even if that’s unlikely to happen (especially at universities, which often have their own anti-discrimination policies), the stress of wondering what your colleagues think of your sexual or gender identity—and of having to “come out” about them at all—is real. Sometimes, especially at work, that disclosure comes as a correction to an incorrect assumption.

“Do you want to invite your boyfriend to happy hour?” “Um, actually…”

“Can we have your wife’s number for the emergency call list?” “Um, actually…”

Even if you’re out and proud, it’s not easy.

You should definitely read the whole piece. And if you haven't already taken our new survey and sent it to your colleagues — now would be a great time!

21 June, 2016

A word (or many) about the survey

Since we've opened the new Queer in STEM survey yesterday, we've been overwhelmed by the initial response. Thousands of people have visited the study website, and hundreds of folks have answered the survey already. We've also had folks raise concerns with a number of specific questions on the survey — either their wording, or the nature of their enquiry, or their suitability for different identities, populations, and career paths. We appreciate this feedback, and will do everything we can to take concerns into consideration and make decisions that allow us to accommodate unforeseen issues but also ensure validity of the survey data. We also want to provide the following more general statement:

First, we acknowledge that a survey is a blunt instrument to examine issues as complex as genders and sexualities. This is why the Queer in STEM project overall employs a mixed methods design, with the survey as stage one of data collection, followed by an open-response questionnaire and individual interviews. These modes allow for participants to provide more detailed explanations of their experiences and identities. We also know that responding to questions that ask about personal identities can cause discomfort, and we apologize for any distress that was caused by our survey.

20 June, 2016

Take the Queer in STEM 2.0 survey!

As we announced last week, we're launching Queer in STEM 2.0 today! Instructions for taking the survey, and how to help spread the word to other people who should take it, are under the "Take the Survey" tab in the navigation bar above, or just click here. Thanks in advance!

15 June, 2016

Introducing Queer in STEM 2.0

Three years ago, we launched Queer in STEM to take the first in-depth look at the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer-identified (LGBTQ) professionals working in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. Today we are excited to announce a new chapter of the project: Queer in STEM 2.0.

The original Queer in STEM study

More than 1,400 people from across the U.S., Canada, and around the world answered the original Queer in STEM online survey, and 120 volunteered to answer in-depth follow-up questions. The results of that original online survey have now been reported in many seminar presentations, a peer-reviewed research article [PDF], and an upcoming book chapter, and have received substantial news coverage. We found that

  • LGBTQ-identified people work in STEM fields from evolutionary biology to particle physics;
  • More than 40% have not disclosed their LGBTQ identity to colleagues, coworkers, or students, even if they are totally “out of the closet” at home;
  • LGBTQ-identified people are more likely to be open about their identities if they know their colleagues and employers support them, and if they work in STEM fields with more even representation of men and women.

Queer in STEM 2.0: New questions, new approach, new discoveries

As in all scientific projects, these discoveries lead to more questions. Do LGBTQ-identified people remain in the closet in STEM workplaces mainly because they feel a lack of support, or because STEM workplace cultures discourage discussion of personal lives outside the lab? How do LGBTQ-identified colleagues, mentors, and role models affect their careers? Does being “out” in the workplace affect their research productivity?

Queer in STEM 2.0 aims to answer these questions with a new online survey designed for more specific hypothesis testing. We hope to hear again from participants in the original Queer in STEM survey, and to achieve an even bigger sample from LGBTQ-identified STEM professionals across the U.S. and Canada. Finally, in our biggest innovation from the original study, we will also ask STEM professionals who don’t identify as LGBTQ to answer many of the same questions we will ask LGBTQ-identified participants, to provide a powerful new tool for understanding the survey results: a control sample.

Queer in STEM 2.0 officially launches on Monday, June 20, 2016. We will be asking LGBTQ-identified scientists, technicians, professors, lecturers, graduate students, engineers, and other professionals — as well as their “straight” colleagues — to answer the anonymous online survey, to help spread the word to everyone who should participate, and to volunteer for in-depth follow up questions if they are comfortable. Thanks in advance for your help! We’re looking forward to some exciting new discoveries about the LGBTQ community and scientific careers.

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.