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Openness in the Lab

A survey finds that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender scientists feel more accepted at work than their contemporaries in other fields, Nature News reports.

As they report in the Journal of Homosexuality, the University of Minnesota's Jeremy Yoder and Allison Mattheis from California State University, Los Angeles, surveyed 1,427 graduate students, postdocs, faculty, researchers, and industry professionals working in STEM fields in the US who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, or asexual. The researchers asked respondents about whether their work and social communities were welcoming or hostile to LGTBQA identities.

From this, Yoder and Mattheis found that about 57 percent of respondents said that they were out to half or more of their work colleagues. In contrast, they note that a recent survey of the entire US workforce found that 47 percent of LGTBQA respondents were out at work.

Further, Yoder and Mattheis note that respondents who were working in a STEM field with a better representation of women reported a higher degree of openness.

"There is reason to believe this difference could be real," Yoder tells Nature News. "In STEM workplaces you are working with a fairly well-educated set of co­workers, and you may very well be able to expect a more open culture than if you were picking a random field from across the entire US workforce."