National LGBTQIA STEM Groups Host Joint Meeting at Tech

LGBTQIA students, professionals, and allies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields will gather for the joint meeting of oSTEM and NOGLSTP.

Students and professionals from across the country will gather at Georgia Tech this weekend for an event focused on LGBTQIA issues in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. 

Out in STEM (oSTEM) and the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTEP) have partnered this year for the first time to combine NOGLSTEP’s Out to Innovate 2014 and oSTEM’s 4th National Conference, co-hosting the joint meeting here at Tech.

“Not only will it be a place to share and network, but it will give students and young professionals opportunities for professional development,” said Emily Li, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major and president of the oSTEM chapter at Georgia Tech.

Around 300 students and 150 professionals from 48 states will spend the weekend at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center to discuss topics of a general nature, such as how to obtain federal research funding, as well as those specific to being queer-identified in academic and corporate settings.

One panel will feature several individuals affiliated with Tech, who will explore the intersection of leadership, orientation, identity, and expression in STEM. Facilitated by Bradley Wilkinson, a Tech alumnus, the panel will include Julie Ancis, associate vice president for Institute Diversity; Jennifer Hasler, professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering; Manu Platt, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering; and alumni Felix Hu and Alex Wan.

“Young people are seeking mentorship and advice, and this gives them a chance to hear from STEM professionals and out leaders,” Ancis said. “We are thrilled to bring this conference to Tech to help educate a diverse community.”

Other speakers at the event will include Tam O’Shaugnessy of Sally Ride Science, Kei Koizumi of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and LaDoris Harris of the Department of Energy.

The conference has been 18 months in the making and is an effort led by the Office of Institute Diversity, with support from the Division of Student Affairs.

"This conference represents a critical dimension of our diversity and inclusion agenda at Tech, and is something we are very committed to," said Archie Ervin, vice president of Institute Diversity, who will also provide welcoming remarks during the weekend.

For Li, it’s indicative of a positive trajectory for both Tech and the Southeast region.

“Tech is such a beacon for the South, and it’s awesome to see people want to invest here and draw out allies and activists,” she said. 

Two Tech students will participate in a poster session with peers from universities such as New York University, Yale University, Purdue University, and the University of California–Berkeley.

Attendees will also have a chance to tour Tech’s campus, and the weekend will even include opportunities to interview with companies that are recruiting.

“These kinds of events bring much-needed conversations about diversity and inclusion into academic and professional STEM spaces,” said Aby Parsons, director of Tech’s LGBTQIA Resource Center. Parsons came to Tech in April to oversee the new center. “These efforts can only help our LGBTQIA students feel more confident navigating both campus and the job market.”

For those looking to get more involved with LGBTQIA issues on campus, the LGBTQIA Resource Center will host a series of Safe Space trainings in the spring. This program is designed for students, faculty, and staff with an interest in learning how to be an ally in the LGBTQIA community.