For the very first time yesterday, 05 Jul 18 was celebrated as LGBT STEM Day; a celebration designed to boost the visibility of the LGBT+ community in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math).
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.
LGBT STEM Day was 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.
What’s So great About LGBT STEM Day?
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. Moreover, 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 even more worrying, 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.
Why 05 Jul as LGBT STEM Day?
Naturally, since we are discussing people in the field of STEM, there’s a very logical and scientific reason behind why 05 Jul was chosen as the date of the celebration.
As per the date format followed by most countries, 05 Jul would be written as 507 which happens to be the wavelength in nanometers of the colour green used in the Pride flag.
Americans however, would write it as 705 which also happens to be the wavelength in nanometers of the colour red. Both colours represent nature and life, respectively, and serve as reminders of the day’s links to the Pride movement.
How Can You ‘GET INVOLVED’?
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.
- Use the #: The easiest way to voice your support is to use the hashtag #LGBTSTEMDay in your social media interactions or write about your favourite LGBT STEM role models or simply share notable work by current LGBT researchers who you feel are worthy of more attention.
- Share & Repost: You could share around posts by LGBT+ individuals working in STEM to increase the visibility of the community across STEM fields. You could also share posts by groups and organisations who have posted about their work supporting LGBT people in STEM.
Ignite The Flame: 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 not, better still, take the lead and start a movement in your own educational/ academic institution.
If you happen to 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.
Organisations could use the hashtag to highlight work that they’ve done to support the LGBT+ community all year long.
- View & Share The Documentary: As this is the first celebration of its kind, a documentary is going to be made about the first ever LGBT STEM Day. It’s 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 organisers 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).
You could even record events that you attended on LGBT STEM Day. The organisers are looking for audio clips from events, including lectures, discussions, and vox pops from other attendees.
You may submit your recordings, or for further information, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.