National Physical Laboratory

5 July marks the first International Day of LGBT+ People in STEM

NPL is celebrating the first International Day of LGBT+ People in STEM. NPL's James Claverley writes about why LGBTSTEM Day is important and what NPL is doing to celebrate and support it.

Thursday 5 July marks the first International Day of LGBT  People in STEM
LGBT Rainbow Flag at NPL

Thursday 5 July marks the first International Day of LGBT+ People in STEM aimed at helping raise awareness and increase support for LGBT+ people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths who continue to struggle to openly be themselves. NPL is proud to be one of the official supporters of LGBTSTEM Day and is flying the Rainbow Flag today to mark the occasion.

But why are we celebrating this? Is being LGBT in Science really still a problem? Well, yes it is. Personally, I was "in the closet" for several years when I started working at NPL and on my PhD because I didn't know whether I would be discriminated against because of my sexuality. Following the hard work of the NPL LGBT+ Network over the past few years, no-one at NPL has to face that worry ever again, as NPL has proudly come out in support of LGBT+ inclusion. You can find out more about our work here.

However, the same is not true for many LGBT+ people in science across the rest of the world:

  • Less than 60 percent of LGBTQ+ people in STEM are out [Yoder & Mattheis, Journal of Homosexuality, 2013]
  • One in three US physicists have been advised to remain in the closet [LGBT Climate in Physics, APS, March 2016]
  • 50 percent of Trans/Gender Non-conforming people were harassed in their department [LGBT Climate in Physics, APS, March 2016]
  • LGB students are 10 percent less likely to enter a STEM career than heterosexual peers [Hughes, Science Advances, 2018]

A recent comment article published in Nature describes the current situation far more eloquently than I can.

So, to raise awareness of this, NPL has been celebrating LGBTSTEM Day this week with the help of Prospect. As well as talks and panel discussions, we have been raising money for the charity Pride in STEM, which showcases and supports LGBT+ people in STEM fields, organises free Out Thinkers events, co-founded LGBTSTEM Day and of which I am proud to be a Trustee. NPL is also supporting and speaking at other LGBTSTEM Day events around the UK.

If you want to get a sense of how widely this issue is being raised and discussed, just take a look at the twitter mentions of #LGBTSTEMDay as there are celebrations happening all around the world including at CERN, Fermilab, and ESA.

Last Updated: 5 Jul 2018
Created: 5 Jul 2018

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