Marie Curie and Alan Turing were my role models, now it’s time to make more recent examples.
November 18th marks LGBTQ+ STEM Day — a day to celebrate and highlight the work and barriers of LGBTQIA+ people in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
Why STEM needs Pride
The LGBTQIA+ community hasn’t always had the same rights as everyone else. It’s important that we don’t forget our history. This day allows everyone in STEM to acknowledge and celebrate how far we’ve come, but also recognise there is still much to do.
Though the majority of LGBTQIA+ scientists believe our field is improving, the 2019 report ‘Exploring The Workplace For LGBT+ Physical Scientists’ from the Royal Society of Chemistry produced shocking, yet not surprising, findings. The survey found that half of transgender or gender non-conforming physicists had been harassed in their own departments, and 28% of LGBTQ+ STEM professionals had considered leaving their jobs due to hostile work environments.
For innovation at CPI to reach its fullest potential, we need to create a space where all STEM professionals — both within CPI and the partners we work with — feel comfortable and valued.
We also need to tackle LGBTQIA+ issues for the next generation of STEM professionals. Gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career, and the barriers faced by traditionally marginalised groups create challenges for people with intersectional identities.
Making a difference
At CPI I work as a Senior Research Technician. I have worked on a variety of internal strategic projects that require my chemistry expertise, including formulating materials for better electric vehicle batteries and sustainable plastics.
I’m also a student mentor. I act as a STEM ambassador for young people with protected characteristics, helping to provide a positive LGBTQIA+ role model for the next generation.
Alongside my job at CPI, I run the ‘Pride in Catapult’ network to create a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community to talk freely about their lived experiences and drive positive change in the workplace. The network hosts meetings on a drop-in basis where professionals come together, share their experiences and learn best practices.
Since taking on the leadership for the network in early 2020 I’ve been expanding the group across the whole High Value Manufacturing Catapult, including the MTC and the National Composites Centre. Talking to people from different organisations makes it a lot easier for LGBTQIA+ people to talk about their experiences with like-minded individuals. It allows us to make suggestions and learn about external workplace initiatives which can then be implemented in our own workspaces.
Everyone is welcome at the Pride in Catapult meetups — from our LGBTQIA+ community to allies seeking support and insight on how to help. The network aims to help CPI and fellow High Value Manufacturing Catapult organisations to identify issues, celebrate successes, and be proactive in making the innovation ecosystem authentically inclusive.
Beyond LGBTQ+ STEM Day
To make real, sustainable change for global LGBTQIA+ STEM professionals, we all need to play our part. This might begin with a conversation, reading up on LGBTQ+ issues in STEM, or including pronouns in your email signature. Or take direct action by joining the Pride in Catapult network to drive equity and inclusivity to ensure everyone can flourish across the innovation ecosystem.
If you’d like to join our ’Pride in Catapult’ network, please get in touch with Hazel.
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