Through SYFY FANGRRLS' coverage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the individuals who work in those areas, we've seen the push to make those academic fields much more inclusive and diverse. Now, award-nominated charitable trust Pride in STEM is devoting an entire day — July 5 — to celebrating the achievements and recognizing the struggles of LGBTQ+ people in STEM, to be called LGBTSTEM Day.
An official press release highlighted the fact that many LGBTQ+ people working in STEM fields still "struggle to openly be themselves," citing several studies in which individuals were surveyed about the factors that made their workplaces either welcoming or unfriendly to those who identify as LGBTQ+. Additionally, one-third of U.S. physicists have been advised to stay in the closet in order to avoid a potentially negative impact on their work. Gay and bisexual students are also 10-percent less likely to enter a STEM career.
The intent of LGBTSTEM Day is to heighten visibility of LGBTQ+ individuals working in STEM fields, not only to acknowledge their fight to exist openly while pursuing their academic passions, but also to further important changes that only come from discussing those struggles and engaging the STEM community as a whole.
Chair and Pride in STEM founder Dr. Alfredo Carpineti said that the solution to these issues can only be found via a continuing conversation. "Solving these problems, requires nothing short of a revolution in how we do science, talk about science, and how we expect science to be. We need inclusive and intersectional changes. To solve the many diverse challenges humanity is facing in the 21st century we cannot afford losing people from minority backgrounds."
Some of the biggest names in STEM history have identified as LGBTQ+. From groundbreaking computer scientist Alan Turing to trailblazing engineer and astronaut Sally Ride to cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, each has made valuable and important contributions to their respective disciplines as well as the whole of STEM. The goal of LGBTSTEM Day is to honor the LGBTQ+ individuals who have paved the way for others while demonstrating to those who currently have a STEM career that they are supported.
With 30 events being held over three contintents, and over 40 organizations supporting this effort, LGBTSTEM Day is only the beginning of a new initiative. "LGBTSTEMDay won’t fix all the issues, but it will shine a big light on them. We are sure it will start conversations, and that’s so important," said Dr. Carpineti.