A Matter of Pride: Efforts to Improve LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in Science
Pride Month (June) is an opportunity to highlight the efforts and contributions of LGBTQ+ researchers. Despite the progress made over the years, members of the LGBTQ+ community tend to be underrepresented and experience non-supportive work environments. A study showed that only 57% of LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM were out to their colleagues and many considered leaving their fields due to the climate of discrimination. The scientific community has undertaken several initiatives to improve the visibility and inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals and make research culture more diverse and equitable.
Following a report highlighting the disparities faced by LGBTQ+ scientists in the workplace, the Royal Society for Chemistry has made resources available for members to actively participate in creating positive changes and making science more inclusive. Pride in Photonics is an initiative by the IEEE Photonics Society and The Optical Society, showcasing the contributions of LGBTQ+ researchers. The IEEE Photonics Society is also a sponsor of PRISMA, an organization advocating for gender and sexual diversity in science; PRISMA also hosts a one of its kind bilingual conference every year for LGBTQ+ members in STEM. The Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry power the LGBT+ Physical Scientists Network to promote diversity and inclusion within their organizations, while Springer Nature’s SN Pride aims to create a safe and respectful workplace for its LGBTQ+ employees. Another remarkable initiative is Out to Innovate’s venture with the National Research Mentoring Network and MentorNet to connect mentors and mentees within the LGBTQ+ community across STEM disciplines. Other research societies like the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Astronomical Society, and The American Society for Cell Biology have committees focusing on issues regarding LGBTQ+ equality and visibility.
Embracing gender and sexual diversity helps foster a more diverse research culture, which is key in driving scientific innovation and a thriving workforce.