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.