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Why So Many LGBTQ+ Scientists Leave Physics

Written by: Mike Silver-Tufts
Published on: Jun 3, 2024
Category:

Pride in Science

Photo Credit:  Gabi - stock.adobe.com

Women and trans people are most likely to experience harassment, according to the research, which comes as physics as a discipline attempts to grapple with equity and inclusion issues.

The study’s authors found that the two biggest factors that influence a person’s decision to leave physics are the overall climate of the organization they belong to and more specifically observing exclusionary behavior.

“Nearly everybody I know who is LGBT+ in physics has left, to be honest,” says Tim Atherton, associate professor of physics at Tufts University and co-lead author of the study. “We’re talking dozens and dozens of students and faculty. I can empathize with the experiences of the study’s participants from some of my own experiences.”

“People feel shunned, excluded, and they were continually having to readjust and twist themselves to fit into the physics community,” says Ramón Barthelemy, assistant professor of physics at the University of Utah and co-lead author of the study. “LGBT+ people are inherently a part of this field. If you want physics to be a place that anyone can participate, we have to talk about these issues."

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