29 May, 2019

Daniel Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano quoted in Science News for Students

Continuing their series of reporting on the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity in science careers, Science News for Students has a new article focusing on trans folks in science. The piece profiles a couple of transgender researchers in depth, including biophysicist Izzy Jayasinghe, who emphasizes the need to "find your people" — a community that can provide moral and logistical support:

While at Leeds, Jayasinghe finally found a transgender community with which to connect. She had been watching YouTube videos made by a transgender biologist and filmmaker named Amanda Prosser. Jayasinghe emailed Prosser, who lived nearby, and asked if she wanted to chat. Prosser introduced Jayasinghe to her friends. Among those friends were other transgender people. Jayasinghe realized that she didn’t need to separate her gender identity from her public life.

She decided to transition. Jayasinghe sent a letter to her parents and emailed her friends and colleagues. She gave them her new name, Izzy, and the pronouns to use. She told people at her university that starting on a certain date, “I will be coming back to work as myself.” She also said that she was open to answering questions about being transgender.

A few people acted awkward around her. But most of them, she says, told her, “We want to support you.”

The piece also quotes Queer in STEM team member Daniel Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano, coauthor on the project's latest publication, which identifies how much workplace policy and climate can matter:

Two transgender scientists who participated in the study were attending graduate school in the same state. One school was very friendly toward trans researchers. Professors had been asked to use trans people’s correct names and pronouns. The university supported medical needs for transitions. The trans scientist at that school was enjoying their experience.

But the other school didn’t have such processes in place. The trans researcher there “was having the toughest time,” Cruz-Ramírez de Arellano says. They felt demeaned by colleagues. The situation was so bad that the scientist wanted to quit.

For more from Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano, and more profiles of trans and nonbinary researchers, check out the full article.

15 May, 2019

Queer in STEM in Science News for Students

Queer in STEM makes an appearance in a big article out in Science News For Students, which profiles LGBTQ-identified scientists and discusses broader issues of queer representation and support in science careers.

One of the folks profiled is QiS team member Joey Nelson:

Nelson’s father is Mexican and his mother is white. He sometimes wonders where he fits in. He used to wonder the same thing about his role in science. Geologists spend a lot of time outdoors. “You’re trouncing around with a rock hammer breaking open rocks,” Nelson says. Anyone can do field research, but some people hold outdated stereotypes that men are better suited to the outdoor work in geology. Nelson is a more feminine man who identifies as queer. He felt that some of the other geologists weren’t always welcoming and supportive of him. 


Nelson began to doubt whether he should be a geologist at all. But then another part of him said of course he should go for it. “You’ve been in the woods since you were a little kid interested in these things,” he remembers thinking. “This is first and foremost where you belong.”

And there's a great accompanying video:

13 May, 2019

New publication: A model of Queer STEM identity in the workplace

We're very happy to announce that a new paper from the Queer in STEM project has just been published online at The Journal of Homosexuality today. Led by Allison Mattheis and Daniel Cruz-Ramírez De Arellano, this paper analyzes open-response questionnaires and one-on-one interviews with almost 150 participants in our 2013 online survey of queer STEM professionals, who volunteered to talk about their career experiences in more detail than we could possibly manage in an online survey form.

The large volume of questionnaire responses and interview transcripts participants provided are the basis for an in-depth grounded theory analysis. In grounded theory, researchers systematically read and annotate a large body of text to identify recurrent themes and connecting ideas from participants' experiences. In this case, the collective picture of LGBTQ-identified professionals working in STEM suggested three interrelated processes of identity establishment, which we categorize as defining an individual queer identity (e.g., as lesbian and cisgender), forming a personal STEM identity (e.g., as an electrical engineer), and navigating queer identity at work in STEM (e.g., whether or not to keep a photo of a same-sex partner at one's desk). These aren't a linear progression, and there was no uniform way in which they occurred — but many participants described all three of these processes working together over their careers.

Here's the formal abstract for the paper.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are often stereotyped as spaces in which personal iden- tity is subsumed in the pursuit of a single-minded focus on objective scientific truths, and correspondingly rigid expecta- tions of gender and sexuality are widespread. This paper describes findings from a grounded theory inquiry of how queer individuals working in STEM fields develop and navigate personal and professional identities. Through our analysis, we identified three distinct but related processes of Defining a queer gender and/or sexual identity, Forming an identity as a STEM professional, and Navigating identities at work. We found that heteronormative assumptions frequently silence conversations about gender and sexuality in STEM workplaces and result in complicated negotiations of self for queer profes- sionals. This analysis of the personal accounts of queer stu- dents, faculty, and staff in STEM reveals unique processes of identity negotiation and elucidates how different social posi- tioning creates challenges and opportunities for inclusivity.

You can read the whole text at the journal website, or here.