November 18 is the International Day of LGBTQIA+ People in STEM
November 18 has been selected to celebrate and highlight the work and barriers of LGBTQIA+ people in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
Among their many struggles, we see that 28% of LGBT+ people have at some point considered leaving their jobs because of a hostile workplace or discrimination towards them. 20% of trans people had often considered leaving (2019 Exploring The Workplace For LGBT+ Physical Scientists), which is an abysmally high number. One in three physicists in America has been urged to stay in the closet to progress in their career. Half of the transgender or gender non-conforming physicists were harassed in their own departments (2015 American Physical Society survey). Gay and bisexual students are less likely to follow an academic career (2018 Coming out in STEM: Factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students). To these statistics, we need to add barriers and issues specific to other underrepresented groups, which create a much bigger challenge for people with intersectional identities.
The change of date from July comes after the result of an open survey and months of discussion. The date is symbolic of the 60th anniversary of American Astronomer and gay activist Frank Kameny’s US Supreme Court fight against workplace discrimination. This is a fight that continues today, not only in the US but in so many other countries worldwide.
We hope that November 18 comes to represent all the people who continue to make the world of STEM a better and more inclusive place!