GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 89-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


AVILA, Teresa, BELL, Brandon, MCLELLAN, Oliver, GRIFFITH, Elizabeth M. and SAWYER, Audrey, School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State University, 125 S Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210

As members of an underrepresented minority group within the Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) community, LGBTQIA+ people face unique challenges and decisions about how open and genuine they will be regarding their identity at school or work. When LGBTQIA+ people cannot be open about their identities, the resulting feelings of “invisibility” can increase feelings of isolation among LGBTQIA+ people in STEM fields. In this study, we are conducting an online survey focused on LGBTQIA+ students and professionals in EPS. We aim to answer three questions: (1) How “out” are LGBTQIA+ people at EPS schools or workplaces?; (2) Do the policies and practices of EPS departments and workplaces support LGBTQIA+ people?; and (3) Have LGBTQIA+ people in EPS dealt with interpersonal discrimination and/or harassment within the past year? Preliminary results of this ongoing survey, based on 405 responses received by July 2021, suggest that while ~70% of respondents are open about their sexual or romantic identities with most or all of their family and friends outside EPS, 58 to 52% are open to most or all of their EPS classmates and coworkers, respectively, and less than 45% are open with their EPS supervisors, professors, mentors, and TAs. Additionally, while the majority of LGBTQIA+ people agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe (~60%) and welcome (~50%) in EPS, less than 36% felt safe during field work. Nine out of 10 respondents reported experiencing forms of exclusion, discrimination or harassment during their entire EPS career, with almost 8 out of 10 experiencing these during the past year – including a third who have experienced microagressions within the past year, such as misgendering or casual homophobic remarks. Furthermore, only one in five agreed that the EPS community was making the proper effort to protect and support LGBTQIA+ people, highlighting the urgent and critical need for our community to find ways to support and retain LGBTQIA+ students and professionals in EPS.