In 2012, a Gallup poll of over 200,000 randomly selected residents of all fifty states and the District of Columbia were asked whether they identified as members of the LGBT community. Approximately 3.5% of respondents said they do (Gate & Newport, 2013). This suggests that hundreds of thousands of engineers identify as not heteronormative, with possibly more people who do not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual identity.
Despite the significant presence of the LGBTQ+ community in engineering, the current milieu continues to uphold stereotypes of gay men being unsuited for highly technical jobs. This perception leads to people using emotionally taxing tactics to hide or discredit their identities (Cech & Waidzunas, 2011).
I believe that in order for the engineering community to achieve its full potential for creative problem solving, we need to create an environment that takes the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community into consideration. I am interested in incorporating the views of my colleagues to supplement the research already being conducted on LGBTQ+ involvement in STEM to provide an engineer’s perspective.
- Cech, E. A., and Waidzunas, T. J. (2011). “Navigating the heteronormativity of engineering: the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students.” Engineering Studies, 3(1), 1–24.
- Gates, G. J., and Newport, F. (2013). “LGBT Percentage Highest in D.C., Lowest in North Dakota.” Gallup.com, <http://news.gallup.com/poll/160517/lgbt-percentage-highest-lowest-north-dakota.aspx> (Apr. 24, 2018).