Progress aside, many physical scientists from sexual and gender minorities continue to face exclusion or harassment at work, finds UK survey
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According to a survey of those working in the physical sciences in UK and Ireland, one-third of LGBT+ scientists have considered leaving their jobs owing to workplace discrimination.
On the other hand, nearly half of the scientists who said they were trans have considered leaving their jobs because of the climate at work, with almost 20% of them regarding this often.
The survey, which was jointly conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Astronomical Society, offers critical insights about the current workspace climate for LGBT+ scientists.
Researchers underlined the need for institutions to proactively foster inclusiveness in order to retain talent and allow scientists to thrive.
“28% of LGBT+ respondents stated that they had, at some point, considered leaving their workplace because of the climate or discrimination towards LGBT+ people. Nearly half of all those who said they were trans had considered leaving their workplace because of the climate, with almost 20% of them considering this often,” the survey reveals.
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The researchers further say, “It is one thing to advocate for diverse workplaces, and another to create a climate that supports them. Survey responses gave multiple examples of LGBT+ scientists leaving workplaces, or leaving science completely, in order to feel more comfortable. This is not good for science.”
For the survey, over 1,000 responses to the questionnaire were logged.
The findings show that a significant proportion of LGBT+ physical scientists have experienced or observed exclusionary behavior. While 16% of all respondents have personally experienced harassment or other exclusionary behavior, 30% reported witnessing exclusionary behavior.
Further, those working in chemistry reported more instances of exclusionary behavior than those in physics and astronomy.
According to the findings, while 60% of the respondents thought that their organization’s policies and procedures were supportive or very supportive of LGBT+ staff, 17% felt that they were generally lacking or even discriminatory.
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This raises the question of whether organisations are walking the talk when it comes to effectively implementing diversity and inclusion measures at work.
The report notes that there might be a few reasons why LGBT+ scientists face more challenges than those in other sectors. One being the international nature of science – a successful career often means interacting with people in cultures that are less inclusive of LGBT+ people.
Respondents revealed feeling less safe being open about heir gender or sexual identity when working in these cultures, and in some cases felt they might be expected to “return to the closet” for the sake of a smooth collaboration.
The report recommends employment policy updates and practical measures such as inclusivity training and adding pronouns to email signatures and blogs to foster inclusivity. It also suggests employers become active members of LGBT+ organisations and promote LGBT+ events and networks.
Source: Scientific American