Men have entry to the world of science, technology, and mathematics, while others are bound to stay away from it. People might put out arguments to that statement, with a whole lot of them strongly expressing their disagreement with the existence of such a bias. You don’t get to see the other side of this world easily since the obvious adroit side is highly focused on to be displayed.
Not many studies or investigations have gone into this subject of partisanship within the walls of this renowned institution. As the climate has taken a sharp shift into progressive coexistence, there isn’t much to be morose about; but an unconscious bias happens to be lurking in the shadows. History of STEM was laid out with an unobvious twitch of disgust for the LGBTQ, which has now subsided so much so that there happens to be an International Day of LGBTQ People at STEM. While so many taboos and dogmas are being denounced these days, let us have a closer look at the underlying layers of the otherwise composed and elite group of people that existed (could be still active) in the organization.
No form of racial or gender discrimination is encouraged in the grounds of STEM anymore, especially not for recruitment. Gone are the days where women or transgender people weren’t allowed to access the institute, be it either for employment or for graduate courses. Although STEM has got a different set of stories to tell today, that wasn’t the case until a few years back.
Not at a single point of time was the persecution categorical, but every candidate had to fit into STEM’s environment, which was in most cases denied to the ones from the LGBTQ community. Departments in the institution had strict norms on how every recruit should comply with the stereotype which had been followed for all those years. Being a homosexual had a heavy impact on a trainee being rejected at nine faculty-job interviews, all of which she had performed impeccably. Denial of opportunities to thrive wasn’t the only way of undermining the efforts of these ingenious humans. Several reports about severe harassment against LGBTQ were also perfect manifestations of the regressive phase that remained intact within STEM.
Gradual Change of STEM
The National Science Foundation, in 1980, was charged by the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act with the duty to ensure participation of underrepresented groups in all fields of STEM. A census system was introduced by NSF to keep a tab on all such organizations. For almost two decades the trend was reverting to almost zero opportunities for women and the black undergraduates. Measures such as ethnicity, gender, race, and disability were considered by NSF while collecting information but not that of the people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
After a whole lot of protests and requests made to the NSF, there had been positive responses. From the piloting stage of executing the rights for LGBTQ, in 2020, the US Census and other federal data collection units have been asked to constantly check through the discrimination that the community is facing at such institutes. The implicit level of bias has, to a great extent reduced today, but hasn’t been annihilated.
How people can contribute to the fight is a question that matters. Networking events for LGBTQ through the role models for such a community can make a huge difference. Biases also need to be tracked using some mechanism at universities, which can be supported by scientific societies and funding agencies.
Living LGBTQ scientific geniuses like Carolyn Bertozzi, Lynn Conway, and Nergis Mavalvala are the living testaments to the changing face of science and the fight the community has led to representing their identity in the form of their talent.