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Digging into some of the literature in advance of a talk I am giving next week on LGBTQ+ and STEM. #lgbtSTEM

Will tweet some 'highlights' from the literature: mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/1/…
LGBTQ+ rights in STEM are not better with age, and it is not just about waiting for the older generation to die off. #lgbtSTEM

There's a great graph in the paper by Cech and Pham. This is the "workplace experience" of employees in US based STEM federal agencies. 3 = positive, 2 = neutral, 1 = negative. LGBTQ+ have a systematically worse of experience. #lgbtSTEM

Reading about the idea of "passing" as straight, and the social pressure that engineering environments can have.
It gives me shivers. Passing/pretending to be something you know you are not, just to fit in, is exhausting. #lgbtSTEM

The expectations of peers is often compounded in a college/university experience, especially when groups of similar people get together (e.g. males) and the 'casual' use of anti-gay epithets appear - this happens so often.

Some of my close friends hang around with other people, and use "oh that's so gay" or similar with each other. This slips out when I'm around, and they say "oh but I don't really mean it, it's just a word we use".

Really unsure if I should be laughing or crying at this story.
The experience of gay men and lesbian women is often different (I know much more about the former - social circles and personal experience), but I've seen these stereotypes ring out in practice.

So we've got gay marriage. We've got diversity initiatives. We've got gay groups. We've got allies. LGBTQ+ people are tolerated. It's all ok, right?

No fuckin' way.



(This research is emotionally hard work)

Hands up to anyone who does diversity work and sits on a committee and hears something like this go down?

And if you are straight and teach students, and you're seeing this feed and going "oh Ben's just going off on one about that gay stuff again" - I am, and this is one of the multitude of reasons why:

Anyway - another academic paper on #lgbtSTEM read, time for a swim. I'll get back on this tale of 'joy' again tomorrow.
Are you ready for the rollercoaster that will be todays reading about being #LGBTSTEM - because I'm sure it's going to be something to perk up your Sunday.

Lets start with something good (from doi.org/10.1111/bioe.1…):
From the same paper - where Murpry surveys the literature and discussions about LGBT parenting:

It will come as no surprise that Finnis objects to gay men and lesbians even as adoptive parents; he calls such adoption “intrinsically evil.”


So I dug into Finnis's work - reading his essay from 1994 on "Law, morality and sexual orientation"

(Finnish is a legal academic at Notre Dame, and a QC barrister in the UK)

Please read the text below, and then see above about the idea of "tolerating LGBTQ+" people. #LGBTSTEM
If I've not raised your blood pressure sufficiently, here's Finnis (an academic) writing about the law. Note the absence of their moral vacuum around this case. The "law teaches".

(Also perforce = used to express necessity or inevitability, had to look it up). #LGBTSTEM
Also, top tip, if you are reading something that is politically charged, and you see an argument to authority - aka "this great person said this, so it must be true" you know that the individual presenting this case is on shaky ground.

Our 'friend' Finnis shows this:
You know how we often say that a "diverse group come to robust decisions" because there are many points of view that come to the table?

If Finnis asked any LGBTQ+ folk to read his manuscript, they'd point out so many flaws in this single paragraph.
The only funny thing about Finnis's essay on 'Law, morality and "sexual orientation"' is that he feels the need to qualify whether each famous philosopher he cites had gay thoughts and also if they acted upon them.
Why did I start reading this Finnis article?

Oh yeah - to remember that academic people in power (Finnis = QC and also has tenure at Notre Dame) can express views like this and be elevated for it (yes this is from 1994, I know!)
Phew - finished the Finnis 1994 lecture.

So it seems that in 25 years, we've not only made individual people's lives happier but also all this scare mongering and impending doom suggested by the right-wing has not materialised.

Back onto the more normal #LGBTSTEM literature. Here's some cheery analysis:

Some statistics for you, from a survey of 252 LGTQ+ people working in healthcare (Sanchez et al. LGBT Health 2015). #LGBTSTEM

Statistics that show that physical scientists are out to their friends more than they are at work is echoed in this survey of healthcare professionals.

If you are straight, you might ask why does this matter?


Well - people are not out at work because (often) they don't feel conformable. 112/252 people in that survey have feared discrimination/harassment due to their sexuality. Furthermore, everyone assumes you are straight. I get asked "Do you have a wife?" about 1/year.
When I am asked that question, the colleague asking me if I have a wife is probably being friendly. But I have to do some mental kung-fu:

"Do I just say no?"
"Do I tell them that I'm gay?"
"Do I tell them that no I do not have a husband?"
"Do I just sit there like a lemon...?"
Now we'll pretend that the second layer of mental kung-fu isn't also going on:

"Where in the world am I?
"What are the people around mes (general) social views on being LGBT?"
"What are the views of the colleague on being LGBT likely to be?"
"Who can overhear this conversation?"
In answering the question "Do I have a wife?" I've done all four of these.

One of which (just saying no) turned out to be 'sensible', as I later found out from a gay colleague that the individual while a 'great engineer' is also a massive bigot.

On the pink pay gap, I'm now reading about the "Motherhood Penalty and Fatherhood Premium" which just reminds me how backwards our society is.

There is an reasonable argument that gay parents are typically more equal in the home, and thus reduce male and raise female earning.
On pink pay gap - for gay males (2006 🇨🇦 census) - numbers of hetero/homosexual men employed in top tier jobs are the same, but the gays are paid less. Because that's fair, right? #LGBTSTEM

Don't just look at #diversity, consider #equality (& #inclusion)

On pink pay gap - for lesbian females (2006 🇨🇦 census) - the data is more complicated, likley due to overlap of gender inequality and LGBTQ+ inequality.

The tl:dr is that it is still shit and there's no equality in these earning figures.

You can read about gender or sexuality pay gaps and go "oh year, that's fine, women are looking after kids, gays are having fun in theatre and bussing tables"

Have a think of why these stereotypes are ringing true, and why job selection is gender/sexuality stereotyped?
For me why does this matter? Only 8% of UK engineers are female, there is (generally) a toxic heternomative culture around. We are shutting out so much talent, who are going off & doing something else with their lives because they feel that UK engineering is not welcoming.
Occupational sorting is just not OK. It is evidence that there is something wrong in our society, both our wider society but also the cultures inside our professions.

(Oh and there is no silver bullet)

When you...

read in a paper that (paraphrasing) reducing bias & improving diversity in the science and engineering workforce has been of national importance since the 2006 initiative, and you are reading this in 2019,

... do you laugh or cry?
Wow. This paragraph needs unpacking.

(1) Academics teach students who come from a range of communities. The students bring their own conceptions to the table when they come into the classroom, and they judge and make decisions based upon their culture.

(2) WTF about not trusting an academic because of their sexuality. This is not ok. If I ever heard that I'd blow a gasket (or an entire fucking boiler system) 😠😠😠😠

If you are reading this thread, hopefully you are getting a bit of a view of the "microaggressions of daily life" that LGBTQ+ people can experience.

These aggressions are distracting & the individuals suffering them routinely build coping & resilience mechanisms, just to exist.
Previously in the thread we discussed "passing", where an individual adopts "straight-behaviour" to fit in.

Maybe it's now time to introduce the idea of colleagues who demand "covering" where straight people encourage gay people to be "a bit less gay" to fit in. #lgbtSTEM
You've probably heard advice of:

"Well, why do you really need to wear that rainbow lapel?"
"Don't talk about same-sex partner benefits when you email the UGs?"
"In this funding raising dinner you can't invite your same-sex partner, because high profile donor comes from X."
All these are acts of the heteronormative majority quashing any differences and limiting the rights of the sexual minorities.

If you are trying to be an ally, just shut up and listen, don't offer this sort of 'advice'.

LGBTQ+ individuals "passing" to pretend to be something different results in people trapped in a "cage of their own construction" with extra labour to navigate everyday interactions.

"What did you do this weekend?" Shit! How do I explain that I had a great evening in a gay bar‽
By the way - a gay bar is pretty much like any straight bar, except most (but not all) are attracted to, at least, people of the same sex.

In comparison to the most recent straight club I went to, there's less harassment and casual unwanted groping.
I still remember when I first took four Uni friends to a gay bar while I was a UG. They were so excited, almost as if they were going to the zoo.

When we got there, we had a few drinks, did some dancing, some of them were hit on (they were flattered) and we called it a night.
Now you might be up to this point in the thread, and going, life is a bit shit for LGBTQ+ people. But there is hope... institutions and institutional culture can be awesome + transformative:

One of the many reasons why diversity matters is that we can come up with robust solutions. The other is because some humans are pigs who need their moral compass writing when discussions kick off and voting comes in.

This comes back to culture - if you have a committee of 4 people making decisions about well being & mitigating circumstances, you are not going to be able to be fully representative of society.


If you have a diverse and inclusive culture, then biases can be addressed.
Warm and fuzzy moment.

Oh my. This is written so very well.

Kristin L Gunckel (2009) in JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing

#lgbtSTEM journal.jctonline.org/index.php/jct/…
Gunckel sums up a stance we share on the benefits of a queer narrative in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Gunckel provides two narratives that highlight why being more comfortable at work regarding sexuality is important in our STEM landscape.

Time for a break - need to collect my thoughts. Almost have a narrative for my talk! Back in a bit.
And we're back - armed with good food and a good venue, time for a bit more - now we have @JBYoder and @profallimatt #lgbtSTEM

First up we can see that naming the "not straight" crowd is difficult - with so many acronyms and groupings of them to consider

Yoder and Mattheis opt for LGBTQA, which acknowledging that other terms exist. #LGBTSTEM
For those of you who are "afraid of getting it wrong" just ask! The theory evolves, the groupings change, and you can learn so much from a discussion about the LGBT+ community from our choice of language.
In general - aim to be inclusive, aim to consider intersectionality (the overlapping of groups, especially minority groups) and remember that one LGBT+ persons point of view is likely to be different to another - for so many reasons.
An important aspect of this is to respect the choice of label that an individual uses. The same as the respect you give by calling someone by their name.

This is drawn out by Yoder and Mattheis.

"When citing other authors, we use the terms included in their published works."
Yoder and Mattheis comment: "As much research in this area has discussed, the positioning of LGBTQ identities as “sexual orientations” reinforces binary understandings of sexuality and assumes heterosexuality (and heteronormative work environments) to be neutral" 🤔👏
In addition to the idea of being able to "bring your whole self to work" (HT @DrJenBaker for reminding me!) LGBTQA people have higher job satisfaction and lower anxiety, if they feel physically and psychologically safe at work (!!!!!!). #LGBTSTEM

Can you imagine the idea of "not feeling psychologically or physically safe" at your place of work? In 2019?

Happens everyday for some people, just because they fancy people of the same gender and other people can't get over themselves.

We can "park" the idea of your desk mate unconsciously/consciously threatening you.

Turn the story inwards, and consider the stress & anxiety a that an individual feels just for concealing part of their identity at work (a common theme of this world)

Yoder and Mattheis reveal similar trends to the healthcare study.

Many LGBTQA people are out of the closet to their friends. But there is a huge number of people who are not out to their colleagues, & even more who do not disclose this to their students.

Yoder & Mattheis analysed 1,427 response. The table of the identities (self selected, & you can be more than one) is fascinating.

44% male, 48% female, 7% trans*, 4% androgynous, 9% genderqueer.

More queer and bi-sexual women than men. Gay females, but lesbian is female only.
The stats nerdery in the Yoder and Mattheis paper is awesome. Correlation between different groups, e.g. are you out to your colleagues in your division AND your colleagues generally = 88%.
Beyond me having a nergasm at the stats - this table is telling. Lots of people are out to their colleagues in division (e.g. >60%) but less so to students (typically 10% less).

This means that students don't see people like them, and/or there is passing/covering going on.
If you are not LGBT+, do you ever think think about revealing the fact that you have kids to the UGs? A husband or wife? Perhaps you invite the UGs around for a casual BBQ.

Imagine you are LGBT+ and you feel pressured to not out yourself to the students.

That feeling right now - it's the joy of being 'privileged'. You don't have to think of the emotional burden that some of us are under.

(I'm single, have no money, and live in London, so the BBQ idea is just a hypothetical narrative dream 🤣)
Oh Engineering - we love you so much...

The benefits of an intersectional approach to #equality #diversity and #inclusion in the workplace is clearly demonstrated in this plot by Yoder and Mattheis. Fields where there is more gender parity have more out LGBTQ people.
There is a caution to be listened in the conclusions of Yoder and Mattheis. A narrative & culture where we badge being "LGBT" as normal does not fix our issues. It is more important to create a #STEM culture which appreciates and welcomes LGBT people, & embraces their differences
Reading about the AI that can determine if white people from the US are gay or straight from their profile pictures. The authors show trained AI (using dating app pics) guess a person's sexual (binary!) orientation in 81%/71% (M/F)

The study is hugely complex to interpret in terms of the social benefit and social problems of AI based approaches. It is going to enable me to lead into a point about diversity and the future of STEM, and ethics...

Focusing back to LGBT+ issues in the STEM workforce and how straight people can support their LGBT+ colleagues, be careful who you out.

Coming out every day is exhausting. However, having your colleagues/friends out you when you didn't want it is FAR worse.
Again - if in doubt - just ask your LGBT+ colleague what level of comfort they have in sharing & with what groups (we've discussed this above). In part this causes structural issues (eg finding role models), so for LGBT+ colleagues, please share if you feel comfortable being out.
The complexity of outing LGBT+ people is echoed everywhere, e.g. Wikipedia urges extreme caution in outing LGBT people, where the Wikipedia guidelines are good on this:
Reading the @APSphysics letter from 1994 - raised by @APSPhysics when it revealed results from theire awesome landmark climate study (more shortly!) - is a sobering reminder that some people want to exclude a discussion sexuality from physics only when it suits them. #lgbtSTEM
Now some of you might go: "Oh but we shouldn't ban a learned society from hosting meetings based upon state laws about the rights of citizens".

Lets open your eyes to the "fun" of playing 'Can I go to that conference, because I am LGBT+ (and bonus if it's public knowledge)?'
Fancy going to a conference on a boat in the Nile? Careful if you are LGBT+, as c. 96% of Egyptians (2013 figures) do not accept homosexuality.

Have a peek at the @ILGAWORLD & ask yourself if you have attend a conference in one of these countries.

@ILGAWORLD We should also spare many thoughts for the LGBT STEM people who live in one of these countries. 🤗🤗🤗
The 2016 @APSphysics meeting unveiled the "Climate in Physics" report - a great piece of work, sobering, and provides much quantitative (and qualitative) evidence on #lgbtSTEM

@APSphysics I've covered lots of the motifs from the report in previous tweets. The report has loads of great data to support earlier items (amount of being out, LGBT+ feeling unwelcome, and more). so I'm going to draw out some new stuff...
@APSphysics If you are an early career LGBT post doc, you are often 'expected' to move to gain new experience and to keep being employed. Each time you move, your support network is ripped apart. If you've been relying on your support network then this is a huge problem. #lgbtSTEM
@APSphysics Why do these support networks matter? For example, 22% of responding LGBT physicists experienced exclusionary behaviour, and 39% have observed it, related to gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or sexual identity. #lgbtSTEM

@APSphysics And if you are LGBT AND a member of another minority, the statistics are even worse.

@APSphysics Why does this matter? Well because people are not choosing to stay and do PhDs, which is expressly linked to the fact that one individual is person of colour and LGBT #lgbtSTEM

(Breathes out lots - the anecdotes from people are so hard to read)

@APSphysics Now most of the data I have been presenting from the APS report has focused on LGB respondents, if you are trans (for those unaware, people who identify as trans often, but not always, prefer "trans" over transgendered / transsexual - ask them!)

@APSphysics Pronouns, to a male who other people assume is male, are an 'obvious thing' and the cis-normative culture assumes that they don't matter.

Now put yourselves in someone's shoes who has been grappling with their identity, and would prefer to be female & transitions 6 years ago...
A simple act of support for trans colleagues, put pronouns in your profile (can be in your location if you want). This reduces the emotional and psychological burden for individuals who already have to deal with so much societal stigma. #lgbtSTEM
For people who want to safeguard talent and support people in STEM, getting a better understanding of LGBT+ issues is important. 36% of the respondents to the Physics survey wanted to leave their jobs the year before the survey. #LGBTSTEM 😢
This thread may be a bit depressing for some of you. It's certainly hitting a few emotional spots for me. But as we note before, there are chances to improve the situation!
Create a culture where allies are seen, queer & queer-ally mentors are supported, and policies are up-front. They really matter!

If you have these things, make sure you educate people about what the symbols mean - rainbow lanyards are pretty, but they are much more. #lgbtSTEM
Right, going to stop now. I've got most of the facts to underpin my narrative for the Wednesday talk.

Hopefully you enjoyed the literature review.
For those of you who want an easier read of my thread on #LGBTSTEM , here's an unroll

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