Reaching OUT for LGBT-Inclusion in STEM

Mary Hoelscher, a STEM Center graduate researcher and instructor, and Dustin Ludwikowski, a chemistry and biology teacher, partnered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to facilitate a workshop at the 3rd National oSTEM Conference (oSTEM is “Out in STEM”) held at Google’s New York City headquarters on October 26th and 27th. Both Hoelscher and Ludwikoski completed the science education initial license program at the University of Minnesota.
The event drew approximately 200 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)-STEM undergraduate and graduate students from oSTEM chapters across the country. Hoelscher, Ludwikoski, and GLSEN’s workshop focused on possibilities for LGBT inclusion in K-12 learning including supportive STEM teachers and LGBT-inclusive curricula. The workshop also gave participants an opportunity to learn more about careers in science teaching and research in science education. oSTEM members were challenged to pay it forward to the next generation of LGBT-identified students through outreach to assist K-12 schools.
Saturday evening, at the event’s gala hosted by the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, participants heard from upper level management at General Motors and the Department of Energy about why they believe LGBT inclusion is central to the STEM future. Recruiters were present from several large STEM corporations on Saturday night and at the conference’s resource fair on Sunday.
General Motors, the Department of Energy, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Alcoa, and the Danaher Corporation value their LGBT employees and recognize their contributions as out participants in their companies. STEM teachers can learn a lot from their example. Our LGBT learners have great deal to contribute to our STEM classrooms and industry is looking to educators to get diverse learners ready to play a role in the scientific and engineering advances we cannot yet imagine. Colleges of Teacher Education have a big part to play in making sure STEM teachers are ready. The University of Minnesota STEM Center has been supporting LGBT-inclusive STEM teacher education since 2011.
Out in STEM, Inc. Founder and Director, Eric Patridge, AP Fritts, the organization’s treasurer, and Hoelscher presented together Wednesday, October 30th, at the Out and Equal Workplace Summit at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Their presentation addressed the needs of LGBT-identified STEM students, researchers, and professionals and how corporate employee resource groups could reach out to affect change in their local community.
Learn more about the 3rd National oSTEM Conference at