Academia should include LGBT+ researchers

Workplace harassment and exclusionary behaviour against LGBT+ researchers are pervasive in academia. A large survey of 25,000 scientists from the United States has exposed that LGBT+ scientists were 20% more likely than their non-LGBT+ peers to have been treated as less skilled professionals. They were also 30% more likely to have experienced harassment at work and about 22% reported an intention to leave science. Many even describe themselves as ‘invisible’ at their institutions. Another survey of more than 600 people working in academia, industry and schools from the United Kingdom found that transgender people and those who do not identify as either male or female experience the largest challenges in academia. About 32% said they had experienced harassment, bullying or exclusionary behaviour in the workplace.

It is disappointing that institutions have focused their efforts on increasing gender and sexual diversity, without any regard for inclusion practices. Marginalisation and isolation of LGBT+ researchers must be tackled explicitly. Researchers should listen to their LGBT+ colleagues’ needs, use proper gender pronouns, and institutions should publicise the achievements of LGBT+ researchers to make them feel more a part of the academic community. Obstacles unique to LGBT+ researchers should be abolished. For instance, a study has found that some 40% of the conferences in some fields are held in locations where laws and social norms are restrictive or even dangerous towards LGBT+ people. When choosing conference locations, organisers should keep in mind that everyone should feel safe attending. At the very least, an option should be offered to follow the conference online. Focus should not only be on diversity, but also on inclusion. If we could dismantle exclusionary practices and micro-aggressions against LGBT+ researchers, everyone would be better off.

This post created by Deni Mazrekaj (Utrecht University), working with AllInc”s NL1 team of Kristoff and Lotte — heel erg bedankt team!

Photo used by courtesy of Glenn Beltz.

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