Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
We are off the air in Vernal. While we work to resume service, listen here or on the UPR app.

Researchers receive grant to support LGBTQ+ inclusion in STEM fields

Eight silhouettes in different rainbow colors, each with a different gender symbol around their head.
Suárez and Garvey aim to imporve visibility and opportunities for LGBTQIA+ students by building a data infrastructure for collecting and managing data on sexual orientation and gender identity that will support the inclusion across STEM disciplines.

A Utah State University researcher received a grant to build data infrastructure to support LGBTQ+ inclusion in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This research aims to improve more effective recruitment and retention of students.

A study earlier this year concluded that LGBTQ+ professionals in STEM are 30% more likely to experience workplace harassment compared with their non-LGBTQ peers. These findings reveal LGBTQ status as a clear axis of inequity and motivate further data collection to improve inclusion of individuals in STEM.

Mario Suárez, professor of the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University, said strides are being made.

“I found out about the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wanting to do some research in this area, particularly looking at recruitment and retention of STEM individuals, students and employees, at different colleges and universities,” said Suárez.

Suárez and co-lead Jay Garvey of the University of Vermont applied and were awarded a two-year over $450,000 grant from this association. Being members of the LGBTQ community and instructors in education, they are motivated to build a strong foundation of data to help universities build the support for LGBTQ individuals in STEM.

“It's ... imperative that we do it. Partly because it helps bring diverse perspectives, diverse experiences into the STEM workforce. But also because we have so many students who want ... to do this research in STEM, who are not necessarily represented in their instructors. They're not represented in the research. And we want to be able to help bridge that gap,” explained Suárez.

Garvey emphases the importance of their research approach.

“As researchers ourselves, Mario and I care a lot about evidence-based practices, because we think that especially in education, decisions should be made as they're informed by data. I think a lot about the importance of relationships with faculty and staff in retaining undergraduate students who are minoritized in the academy. And I find that especially true for queer and trans people who are in STEM education, or STEM programs broadly,” Garvey said.

Colleen Meidt is a science reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mojave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.