17 September, 2013

Getting an early start as a queer in STEM

This profile of a budding scientist made us smile:

Meet Jack Andraka, a 16-year-old inventor, scientist, and cancer researcher who, in 2012, was awarded the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair’s prestigious “Gordon E. Moore Award” for his invention that detects an increase of a protein that indicates the presence of pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer during early stages when there is a higher likelihood of a cure.

And Jack is gay—he's been out since he was thirteen. But even in an age when it's possible to start coming to terms with his sexuality that early, he's facing something we've heard about from many of the folks who participated in our study:

Jack is also openly gay, and says that his family and a few close friends had known for about three years, and are very accepting.

He says he used to worry that there were few gay role models in the science field, or that he would be perceived as “that weird gay kid.” But now he hopes he can help inspire other LGBT youth to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

We're hopeful that the Queer in STEM study can help provide greater visibility for LGBTQ scientists—so that smart, ambitious kids like Jack don't have to look so hard for mentors who understand their experiences.