• <span id="wtsyk"></span>
    <tr id="wtsyk"></tr>
  • 
    

    <legend id="wtsyk"></legend>
    <ol id="wtsyk"><menuitem id="wtsyk"></menuitem></ol>

    Taking pride in our researchers

    Today marks the second LGBTSTEM Day, celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer scientists, engineers and mathematicians around the world. Cambridge researchers tell us why celebrating diversity is important – and why identities really do matter.

    Dr Alfredo Carpineti is a raging homosexual.

    This was how he described himself at Out Thinkers, an event at this year’s Cambridge Science Festival. It’s a derogatory expression that dates back to a period of greater intolerance towards people of diverse sexual identities. But Alfredo is raging in a very different sense of the word.

    “I’m raging because I see a lot of inequalities and challenges for LGBT people in STEM that are not being addressed,” he says.

    Alfredo is Chair and co-founder of the organisation Pride in STEM, as well as an astrophysicist and a writer for the hugely popular IFLScience.com. He set up Pride in STEM to support scientists and engineers who define as LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or any other minority gender identity and sexual orientation).

    Alfredo Carpineti

    Alfredo Carpineti

    Speaking at the science festival, Alfredo quoted some startling – and somewhat depressing – statistics. Less than 60% of LGBT+ people in STEM are out. One in three US physicists has been advised to remain in the closet. Half of transgender or gender non-conforming people have been harassed in their department. Little wonder, then, that lesbian, gay and bisexual students are 10% less likely to enter a STEM career than their straight peers.

    More recently, a survey of UK physical scientists found that 28% of LGBT+ respondents – and nearly half of all those who said they were trans – had at some point considered leaving their workplace because of the climate or discrimination towards LGBT+ people. There was some cause for optimism, however: the majority of all respondents (75%) reported that the working environment for LGBT+ physical scientists was comfortable and 70% said it was improving.

    “If you aren’t raging, you haven’t been paying attention,” said Alfredo at the Science Festival. It’s time to stand up and take action.

    Among the measures he would like to see put in place across institutions is awareness training in departments, not just for LGBT+ issues, but around diversity in general. “We need to make people realise that their own experience is not the only way the world can be experienced.”

    There are some simple, practical measures, too, that he believes will make a difference. These include everyone giving their pronouns in talks and email signatures (mine are he/him/his, for example), and departments having gender-neutral toilets in their building and ensuring they work closely with their institution’s Equality & Diversity team.

    “[Departments and institutions] shouldn’t deal with these issues as a reaction to something happening – they need to be proactive,” he says.

    In 2018, Alfredo, alongside other organisations, launched LGBTSTEM Day, which takes place on 5 July. It’s a geeky in-joke: the date can be written as 507 – in nanometres this is the wavelength of the colour green featured in the rainbow flag (representing nature); in the US, it can be written as 705, which in nanometres is the wavelength of the colour red (representing life).

    Just as pride marches around the world have helped make the LGBT+ community more visible, Alfredo hopes this annual event will help showcase the diversity within the STEM community, helping change attitudes and make it easier for LGBT+ colleagues to “be authentic” – to be who they want to be in both their personal and private lives, to be ‘out’.

    “There’s a shortage of LGBT+ role models in STEM, and hopefully through LGBTSTEM Day we can show that there are LGBT+ people working in STEM and they are successful, that they are important and should be valued.”

    Dr Duncan Astle is a Programme Leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and a Fellow of Robinson College. He manages a lab that’s interested in the developing brain in childhood and why some children flourish at school, whereas others struggle. Their work draws upon education, cognition, neurophysiology and genetics. Duncan is also in charge of the graduate programme, with oversight over around 40 graduate students at the Unit.

    Dr Duncan Astle is a Programme Leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and a Fellow of Robinson College. He manages a lab that’s interested in the developing brain in childhood and why some children flourish at school, whereas others struggle. Their work draws upon education, cognition, neurophysiology and genetics. Duncan is also in charge of the graduate programme, with oversight over around 40 graduate students at the Unit.

    Inspiring role models

    One of Alfredo’s good friends is Dr Duncan Astle, a programme leader at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) in Cambridge. Duncan says that Alfredo, who he describes as “an inspiring figure”, was one of the first gay friends he made after coming out just over three years ago.

    “When I came out, I remember that some senior people told me, ‘That's your private life, don’t bother sharing it in the work environment’,” says Duncan. Such comments, he says, come from a fundamental lack of understanding. “I think that often, people who are not LGBTQ don't realize how important a part of [a person’s] life sexuality is. It's an easy thing to say, ‘Oh, just keep that private’, without realising actually how integral a part of who you are it is.”

    Fortunately, those comments aside, Duncan says that the CBU is a very open and welcoming place to work. “Down in the kitchen, we've got the Pride flag up. Someone put it up for LGBT History Month a couple of years ago and none of the straight people have felt confident enough to take it back down! It's become a permanent fixture.”

    Giulia Barsuola is a PhD student at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and Darwin College. Now a neuroscientist, Giulia spent their undergraduate days studying philosophy in Italy. Giulia’s research uses a variety of experimental methods including neuroimaging techniques to look at how we might forget – or at least make less intrusive – negative, painful and intrusive memories from our past.

    Giulia Barsuola is a PhD student at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and Darwin College. Now a neuroscientist, Giulia spent their undergraduate days studying philosophy in Italy. Giulia’s research uses a variety of experimental methods including neuroimaging techniques to look at how we might forget – or at least make less intrusive – negative, painful and intrusive memories from our past.

    Just as Alfredo inspired Duncan, so Duncan has himself gone on to inspire his own colleagues. Giulia Barsuola, a PhD student at the CBU and Darwin College, says: “When I came [to the CBU] and met Duncan and saw that he was out, it was great. It was so inspiring for me, seeing that someone in a higher position was open about themself. It’s really given me a lot more encouragement to be out myself.”

    Giulia identifies as gender non-binary and goes by the pronouns they/them/their. “Being non-binary means that you don’t feel you fit in the gender binary. You don’t feel that the category of being a woman really makes a lot of sense to you, but at the same time, being a man doesn't make a whole lot of sense to you.”

    Giulia, has spent their whole life refusing to be pigeon-holed. They grew up in Italy, but have lived and worked in six countries on three different continents. They loved both the humanities and sciences, so studied philosophy of science. And they describe themself as bisexual. Giulia could barely be any further removed from the stereotype of a scientist.

    “Usually, when someone thinks of a scientist, their idea is a straight white man, able-bodied, but not all scientists look like that. And that’s a very good thing, because there's space for everybody. Everybody has the possibility to be in science, regardless of whether they are men, women, binary, trans, straight, gay, lesbian.”

    Duncan agrees. “I think sometimes, when people think about scientists, they have a particular model of what a scientist looks like in their heads, and it's probably not a queer person. I think there's this perception that it’s a straight profession. And actually, that's not true at all. There are a growing number of LGBT+ people in science.”

    He jokes about the response from his mother to his coming out. “She asked me if I was going to join the theatre! I’ve been an academic my whole career, researching, studying the brain, but she thought it was the only way I would make new friends. I said, ‘Mum, I've got loads of gay friends, but they're mathematicians, they’re engineers, they’re scientists’, and her jaw hit the floor. It hadn’t occurred to her that queer people do those things. In her head, it's straight people who do those kinds of things, and people who aren’t straight wear feather boas and tread the boards.”

    Dr Lisa Nicholas works at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Sciences on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Lisa studies the impact a mother’s diet – and even her own mother’s diet – has on her child’s own risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s something of a personal quest, as several generations of her family back home in Malaysia have developed the condition.

    Dr Lisa Nicholas works at the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Sciences on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Lisa studies the impact a mother’s diet – and even her own mother’s diet – has on her child’s own risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It’s something of a personal quest, as several generations of her family back home in Malaysia have developed the condition.

    To be out or not to be out

    While Duncan describes his coming out as “a late epiphany”, for Dr Lisa Nicholas, a researcher at the Wellcome-Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Sciences, the experience came much earlier. Along with Alfredo and Giulia, Lisa was one of the speakers at this year’s science festival event where she stole the audience’s hearts with the line “The first person I ever came out to was at high school. She’s sitting over there, and she’s now my wife!”

    “After I came out at university, I never really went back,” says Lisa. “It’s never really occurred to me to not come out. I think if I don’t, it will just get the better of me.”

    Fortunately for Lisa, the Institute, like the CBU, is a very open and positive environment. This was perfectly illustrated by a story told by her colleague Dr Jacek Mokrosinski at the previous year’s Out Thinkers event.

    Jacek, originally from Poland, was being interviewed by phone for a position at the Institute. At the end of the interview, his prospective supervisor, Professor Sadaf Farooqi, asked him if he would be bringing any family with him if he got the job. When he replied that yes, his partner would be coming, her next question was “Will she or he be looking for work when they join you?” This may sound like a small gesture, but Jacek said he knew immediately that the Institute was the place for him.

    Lisa believes it is extremely important that people can be who they want to be in the work environment – otherwise, interpersonal relationships are hampered. In science, collaboration – cooperating with others, sharing ideas, giving honest feedback – is essential. And collaboration is built on trust.

    “I think it’s important to foster relationships with colleagues where you can talk about each other’s lives outside of work,” she says. “It would be too difficult and awkward to share a part of myself if wasn’t able to be out at work.”

    Dr Sean Collins is a researcher at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy and a fellow at Girton College. Sean uses a technique known as electron microscopy that allows him to look so closely at materials that it’s possible to observe individual atoms and how they form the structure of materials. This is important because there is a direct connection between the organisation of the atoms in a material and its properties and performance. Its applications touch on everything from smartphones to artificial hip joints to jet engines.

    Dr Sean Collins is a researcher at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy and a fellow at Girton College. Sean uses a technique known as electron microscopy that allows him to look so closely at materials that it’s possible to observe individual atoms and how they form the structure of materials. This is important because there is a direct connection between the organisation of the atoms in a material and its properties and performance. Its applications touch on everything from smartphones to artificial hip joints to jet engines.

    Dr Sean Collins, a researcher at the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy and fellow at Girton College, agrees with Lisa that being honest about one’s identity is important, but highlights the dilemma this puts people under.

    “You don't want to feel that you're holding something back from the people that you're trying to build relationships with, but at the same time there's this risk of ‘Will I switch someone off from being a collaborator by outing myself? Is there more professional benefit to be gained from hiding that aspect of my identity?’

    “These are questions you shouldn’t have to ask yourself. You shouldn’t have to risk your personal security or your safety in order to advance your professional career.”

    Like Lisa, Sean also came out at high school. He grew up close to Washington, DC, and was active in LGBT+ rights during his school years and at university. He still considers this important and is active within the LGBT+ community, sitting on the steering committee for the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network, as well being involved in his departmental Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum.

    But coming out, as anyone who defines as LGBT+ will tell you, is never a one-off event: almost every day, people are faced with decisions on whether or not to come out. Despite Sean’s early start – and even though he never deliberately hid his sexuality from his close colleagues – he says he only really came out to his PhD supervisor once he had submitted his thesis.

    Although Sean says he has not directly experienced discrimination – at least, as far as he knows – he says that many LGBT+ researchers are well aware of the potential for ‘soft homophobia’, discrimination that may not even be deliberate and would be almost impossible to prove.

    Thanks to the work of people such as Alfredo and initiatives put in place by universities, research institutions and funders, a growing number of scientists and engineers now feel able to stand up and say “I’m a researcher and I’m LGBT+”.

    Sean says that initiatives such as LGBTSTEM Day that celebrate diversity are essential for helping inspire LGBT+ researchers.

    “It’s important for people to see that there are safe places to be out and that they can see themselves in [senior] positions, too, that it’s an achievable goal,” he says. He finds recent developments at Cambridge encouraging – the University’s colleges already have two openly-LGBT+ heads, have recently appointed two non-white heads and have an almost equal number of female and male heads – but as he points out, much of this diversity has been achieved by appointing from outside academia.

    One Cambridge department that is leading the way is the Faculty of Mathematics, which developed its own LGBT+ Action Plan in response to concerns raised by the staff and student LGBT+ community. While many of its actions are applicable to other protected characteristics, such as race, gender and disability, some are specifically aimed at supporting the LGBT+ community. These include trans awareness training, events promoting LGBT+ awareness, and providing “the environment and resource in which a local LGBT+ student network or society can flourish”. The department has also set up its own mailing list specifically on LGBT+ issues.

    Celebrating science by celebrating diversity

    In 2018, to mark the inaugural LGBTSTEM Day, the University of Cambridge produced Celebrating Cambridge’s LGBT+ scientists and engineers, a film featuring colleagues from the University, biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and nearby research institutes. While the film was well received, it drew negative comments from a small number of people, including one person who said that Cambridge should be celebrating scientists’ research, not their LGBT+ identities.

    When I ask our researchers how they would respond to such a charge, almost everyone asks first “Am I allowed to swear?”

    Alfredo is particularly incensed. “I think it’s extremely myopic,” he says. “Identity and politics have always been a part of science.”

    He points to the examples of some of the twentieth century’s greatest thinkers – Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, for example – whose identities cannot be divorced from their work. Both were forced to flee their countries (Germany and Italy respectively) because of persecution of the Jews and moved to the USA, where they worked on the country’s nuclear programme. “We can’t pretend that the choices they made were unrelated to their identities.”

    Likewise, says Alfredo, we should stop thinking of science as being apolitical. “Science is not done in an historical vacuum. It’s influenced by all our biases, by the political zeitgeist. We should stop pretending that STEM is pure and untouched by the grubby reality of politics and social change.”

    This year sees several Cambridge departments joining in LGBTSTEM Day celebrations, ranging from a rainbow-themed tea and cake party at Biochemistry to Out in STEM: a LGBTQ+ Panel Discussion at the Department of Physics, organised by Cavendish Inspiring Womxn. lgbtQ+@cam, a programme run by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, is hosting an afternoon of talks and panel discussion Queer STEM.

    Tea and cake at the Department of Biochemistry, 2018 (Credit: Rhys Grant)

    Tea and cake at the Department of Biochemistry, 2018 (Credit: Rhys Grant)

    Duncan is himself involved with this year's events, presenting a talk at the Wellcome/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute. He wants more people to understand that people who define as LGBT+ (or indeed, any minority) face particular challenges in their day-to-day lives.

    “If you have never been a member of a minority group, then it's very hard to place yourself in their shoes,” he says. “Unless you've had to struggle to make yourself heard, it's incredibly naive to think it’s a totally level playing field and that everybody has a fair shot at being a success in science.”

    Duncan readily admits that as a white, middle class male, he comes from a place of privilege on many issues. But he believes that celebrating diversity will help overcome the inherited bias and privilege that currently dominates the system.

    “The more we celebrate diversity – and that's not just LGBT+ diversity, it’s racial diversity, gender diversity – the more it becomes about the quality of the scientist, the more it becomes about celebrating the science.”

    Related links

    University of Cambridge LGBT+ Staff Network
    CUSU LGBT+ (Cambridge University Student Union)
    LGBTQ+@Cam
    Pride in STEM

    香港彩开奖历史记录-香港彩开奖网址-香港彩直播开奖