12 June, 2013

A bit-more-than-a-month update

rainbow flag : banner, harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) Photo by torbakhopper.
Happy Pride Month—it's been more than a month since we launched this study, and what a month it's been!

Back on May 7, we opened an online survey of folks working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer. As of today, 1,523 people have answered the call—out of which, 1,180 participants have completed the key survey questions on their identity and experience.

Our "snowball sampling" method of asking participants to pass along links to the study has been extremely successful: we know that the survey has been mentioned in at least 185 tweets, recommended 467 times on Facebook, and shared 20 times on Google+. We've been linked from websites we know well—like It's Okay to Be Smart and Minority Postdoc—and also from new friends like Geek Feminism, The Asexual Agenda, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Lab and Field, and many, many folks on Tumblr.

We've been especially glad to hear from folks working in industry or research outside of academia—if you haven't already, please help us reach out to other folks in the private sector, outside the networks we're more familiar with as university researchers. And, to those of you in academia, we greatly appreciate your sharing the survey with friends and colleagues working both within and outside of university settings.

All in all, it's been a fantastic response, and we have reason to think that there are still a lot more potential participants left to reach.

What have we learned so far? Participants are from every region of the U.S. and dozens of other nations, and working in research fields from evolutionary biology to particle physics. We're getting glimpses of complex personal stories about how folks integrate their identities with their careers—or how they keep them separate—and how who we are affects where we live and what we study. We've also heard from a number of people whose stories are more nuanced than what we can easily capture with options in radio-button lists and drop-down menus.

And we're already working to better understand the kind of complexity that doesn't fit in a multiple-choice webform. Many of you have already received one of the hundreds of e-mails we've sent with a list of open-ended followup questions—and 101 of you have already sent back amazingly thoughtful, in-depth answers to this second phase of our study. Soon we'll begin the third phase, contacting volunteers for one-on-one interviews to better understand the answers to the phase two questions, and to have truly open-ended conversations about how our identities interact with our chosen careers.

Thanks to everyone who's helped with this work—those who've shared the link to the study, promoted it on blogs and e-mail chains and LinkedIn groups, and especially to everyone who's participated in the online questionnaire and answered followup questions.

We've been overwhelmed by the positive response to this project, and we're excited to start analyzing and synthesizing all of this data.

—Jeremy and Allison