Improving LGBTQ+ retention in STEM: A transatlantic perspective on current barriers and best practices [July 13, 2022]

For its July meeting, the DEI Community learned more about increasing LGBTQ+ retention in STEM:

Speakers: Dr. Colbie Chinowsky and Shane Coffield

Summary: Increasing LGBTQ+ retention is a key part of improving the diversity of perspectives and experiences necessary to drive high-quality scientific innovation. The issue of LGBTQ+ attrition has become more clear in recent years, with some studies estimating that LGBTQ+ people across STEM professions are 17-21% less represented, drop STEM majors at high rates, and face clear limitations and harassment. However, the issue has received very little attention, resources, and policy interventions, in part due to a lack of widespread demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identities. We have taken a multifaceted approach to understanding and addressing the data on LGBTQ+ attrition. This includes a comprehensive literature review, as well as interviews and roundtables with stakeholders across universities, governments, and non-profit organizations from the US and UK. We present a set of recommendations on how to improve data collection, combat toxic professional environments, and support LGBTQ+ scientists in a variety of settings. Our hope is that this synthesis will provide clear actions that universities, funding agencies, and professional societies can take to better understand and address LGBTQ+ attrition.