Why visibility in science matters

18 February 2020
Shining a spotlight on LGBTIQ visibility in science
Associate Professor Alice Motion and PhD student Perry Beasley-Hall are part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras event An Evening with 500 Queer Scientists. We caught up with them to find out how they got involved and what this event means to them.
Alice Motion and Perry Beasley-Hall sitting on a wooden chair in front of a garden

Associate Professor Alice Motion (left) is a chemist and science communicator in the School of Chemistry. Perry Beasley-Hall (right) is a PhD student in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.

What is An Evening with 500 Queer Scientists?

Perry: We have talks from five scientists who showcase their personal experiences as members of the queer community in their fields, how they’ve been treated by their colleagues and any limitations they might have faced because of their identity.

Alice: One of the aims of this evening is to increase visibility of queer scientists and to showcase the fabulous science that they are doing. Our speakers are from different places in Australia, and not all of them are researchers. This year we have a lab manager on the panel, which also helps highlight the fact that science isn’t done in isolation - there are many people that contribute to any success in the field. It’s very exciting to have a science event as part of the official Sydney Mardi Gras program.

How did you get involved?

Perry: I was the youngest speaker at last year’s event, which was the first of its kind in Australia. I’d never been involved in anything that combined science and the LGBTIQ community before, particularly not in the context of outreach, and this was a really good combination of all of these things. This year I’ve been part of the organising committee.

Alice: An organiser approached me through a friend to host the event last year. I’d heard about 500 Queer Scientists, which was started by Dr Lauren Esposito in response to a survey that showed 40 per cent of LGBTQIA researchers in the US weren’t out to their colleagues. I’m delighted to be back hosting again this year, and it’s been great to see that panellists from last year are now organising the event.

I feel humbled to share my personal experience in science, to not only talk about the limitations I’ve faced but also share that things are getting better.
Perry Beasley-Hall

What does this event mean to you?

Perry: This is a chance to more deeply engage with the LGBTIQ community, which I’ve done in a more social environment but not in a way that is impactful for the general public, particularly for young people who are looking at science as a potential career. I feel humbled to share my personal experience in science, to not only talk about the limitations I’ve faced but also share that things are getting better.

Alice: It’s important for me to be out and visible as a scientist. I’ve personally realised the impact of being an out role model since doing talks in the community. Sometimes you visit schools or talk to audiences, and there might be somebody there who is not out or might be questioning their sexuality or wondering whether there is anybody else who is queer and passionate about science. This event is one way we can highlight how vital the visibility of all types of representation in science is.

An Evening with 500 Queer Scientists is on Wednesday 19 February from 6pm at The Calyx. Buy tickets.

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