Coming out in any workplace can be a daunting task. With all the recent discussion around the lack of women in science, I got interested in investigating the experiences of queer women in science. So in the spirit of National Coming Out Day this month, I interviewed ten queer professionals and students working across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields about how they decided to come out or stay in the closet at work.
Compared to the cultural dialogue we have around gender bias and racism in the sciences, there is little discussion in media of issues of queer-related bias. Many scientists keep their queer identity invisible, which leaves young queer and questioning people with few queer role models in scientific fields. By failing to discuss the unique barriers to queer people in the scientists, we allow the image of smart, successful scientists to become disconnected from our socially constructed projections of homosexuality.