Today marks the first-ever LGBT STEM day - a celebration designed to boost the visibility of the LGBT+ community in STEM fields, as well as provide much-needed resources, and foster stronger connections between LGBT+ individuals working in STEM.
The initiative was inspired by previous inclusivity efforts like the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which also sought to address issues of diversity within STEM. LGBTSTEM Day is being launched in collaboration between Pride in STEM, House of STEM, and InterEngineering, as is supported by the Science Gallery, the Royal Society of Chemistry, CERN LGBT+ Network, and more.
Out in the Lab: Why LGBT STEM Day Is Important
One of the key motivations behind the creation of LGBT STEM Day is visibility. According to research published in Nature, only 57% of American researchers are openly "out" in the lab. In addition to this, a survey from the American Physical Society revealed that over a third of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals in academic institutions have been advised to stay in the closet or risk ruining their careers.
The data on trans and gender non-conforming individuals is more worrying still, with roughly half reporting that they have experienced harassment as a result of their gender identity. Furthermore, research from as recently as March of this year revealed that LGBT+ students were 8% less likely to be retained in STEM than their heterosexual peers.
That's why representation and visibility across science, technology, engineering and mathematics is so important. LGBT STEM Day seeks to celebrate the contributions of the LGBT+ community in these fields, and to open a platform for visibility and support.
Choosing a Date: Why July 5th is LGBT STEM Day
Naturally, there's a pretty scientific reason behind the choice of date for LGBT STEM Day. In many parts of the world, July 5th can be written as "507", which is the wavelength in nanometers of the color green used in the Pride flag.
In the United States, the date would be written as "705", which is the wavelength in nanometers of the color red. Both colors represent nature and life, respectively, and serve as reminders of the day's links to the Pride movement.
Getting Involved: How You Can Celebrate LGBT STEM Day
LGBT STEM Day is open to members of the LGBT+ community who work in STEM or STEM-related fields, as well as workers in STEM who simply want to show their support of the LGBT+ community. It is also open to businesses and academic institutions, and groups and organizations, who wish to show their support of the community.
If you want to get involved, there are a lot of ways you can show your support and boost the profile of the LGBT+ community in STEM.
- Join the Conversation
Perhaps the easiest way to get involved in LGBT STEM Day this year is to simply show your support online. Use the hashtag #LGBTSTEMDay to share your LGBT STEM role models, or share notable work by current LGBT researchers who you feel are worthy of more attention.
Be sure to share around posts by LGBT+ individuals working in STEM to increase the visibility of the community across STEM fields. You can also share posts by groups and organizations who have posted about their work supporting LGBT people in STEM.
Organizations can use the hashtag to highlight work that they've done to support the LGBT+ community all year long.
- Go Out and Celebrate
You can check online to see if there's an LGBT STEM Day event happening in your area. Many academic institutions around the world are holding their own events, so check to see if your college or university is hosting an event of their own.
If you do attend an event, be sure to post about it on social media using the hashtag #LGBTSTEMDay to boost visibility and spread the word about LGBT STEM Day.
- Make History
As this is the first celebration of its kind, a documentary is being made about the first ever LGBT STEM Day. It's planned to be an audio documentary, which will eventually be posted online for people to listen to.
If you want to make history and record the part that you played in the first ever LGBT STEM Day, or record someone else's story, all you need to do is hit record. You don't need high-end recording equipment, even recording the piece on your phone is enough.
The organizers are looking for profiles by LGBT+ people currently working in STEM, including their name, occupation, and their experiences of working in STEM as a member of the LGBT+ community. Likewise, if you know someone working in STEM who identifies as a member of the LGBT+ community, and who you feel would make an ideal interviewee for the documentary, you can record their story (with their permission, of course).
You can even record events that you attended on LGBT STEM Day. The organizers are looking for audio clips from events, including lectures, discussions, and vox pops from other attendees.
To submit your recordings, or for further information, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's high time that we openly discussed and celebrated the contributions and innovations of LGBT+ people working in STEM.
This July 5th, spread the word and help create a more open, inclusive, and progressive atmosphere in STEM. How will you be celebrating LGBT STEM Day this year?