July 5th, 2018 was the first International Pride in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Day. The Ontario Science Centre hosted an afternoon with a panel of LGBTQ+ speakers working in STEM fields. It was inspiring hearing their stories of working in STEM fields as a part of the LGBTQ+ community as well as their experiences with breaking away from the stereotypes that come with the profession. Pride in STEM Day hopes to make fields more accepting of LGBTQ+ scientists.
The event was led by drag queen Conchita from Toronto’s drag comedy trio, “the B-Girlz.” When she’s not Conchita, Rob Windisman is a graduate of the Ontario Science Centre Science School with a masters degree in engineering.
It was enlightening to hear about the different speakers’ experiences and how no matter the different challenges they faced, they persevered and succeeded in their careers. However, LGBTQ+ members in STEM fields are a minority. According to Conchita, studies show that sexual minority students are about 8% less likely than heterosexuals to still pursue a STEM degree after 4 years pursuing an undergraduate degree.
Conchita let everyone know why she chose to appear in drag.
“What a great way to really tell people when they’re walking by that you’re in an LGBTQ+ positive place to see a drag queen right here!”
It helps to see a more diversified representation of scientists in mass media.
The Ontario Science Centre successfully showed the diversity in STEM fields to a variety of age groups. It also showed how in order for the fields to improve and develop, we, as humans, must break from the mold of stereotypes and begin to include instead of to exclude. Once we accomplish that, our world will begin a journey to become a safer place for LGBTQ+ individuals.