It’s not easy coming out as…a scientist.

This month is LGBT History Month and here is a thought-provoking article by The Guardian‘s Tom Welton, who asks why there seems to be so few scientists in the LGBT community. Very few scientists appear on lists of the most influential LGBT people, and Tom wants to bring this issue up so that something may be done about it.

Fortunately for Tom, he has never received much discrimination in the scientific community for his sexuality, and he and his partner have always been welcomed and accepted by his colleagues. As he points out, in this competitive research environment we have at present, scientists are much more interested in your most recent publication than who you choose to go home to.

Much more surprisingly, Tom has found that he has been much less welcomed by the LGBT community – because of his profession as a chemist. In our little bubble in the scientific community, it’s easy to forget how badly though of the chemical sciences are, and Tom has found himself saying he’s a teacher, just to be spared the barrage of abuse he receives. It’s very surprising that a community which has so often faced prejudice itself could be so close-minded. Tom goes on to suggest that this could be the reason why the LGBT community boasts so few scientists among its ranks – maybe people are afraid to admit what they do for a living?

Of course, this is only one man’s story, but it does make you think, and it would be very interesting to see if others in similar situations have had the same experience.


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