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“I never want to leave part of myself at the doorstep”: Experiences of Canadian LGBTQ2S+ postdoctoral scholars in the sciences

Abstract: Diversity and inclusion in science improves the field for all, but cisheteronormative cultures can make academic science departments difficult for LGBTQ2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, 2-Spirit1, and other identities) individuals to navigate. Evidence suggests that this cisheteronormativity can contribute to a “leaking” science pipeline, where such individuals are more likely to seek out paths outside of science and academia. Studies also show that postdoctoral scholars have low life satisfaction and trouble finding academic jobs, which could worsen this “leak”. However, there is little Canadian data on this topic, and no data on LGBTQ2S+ postdocs. This qualitative study explored the values, beliefs, and experiences of 14 Canadian LGBTQ2S+ postdocs in science. Semi-structured interviews were conducted about coming out as LGBTQ2S+ in science, experiences of mentorship, and their beliefs on staying within science and academia. Interview data was analyzed thematically from a poststructural perspective. The main themes that emerged were: 1) feeling supported and accepted, 2) experiencing cisheteronormativity and discrimination, and 3) the leaking academic pipeline. While some participants experienced their science departments as supportive, many also discussed heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and sexism, which was consistent with previous literature. Many participants considered leaving academia due to lack of job security, competitive job market, and work-life balance issues.

Credit: Drew Maxwell Burchell, Tamara Anne Franz-Odendaal, Phillip Joy from Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada

Date: 2022