Whereas astronomy is the study of the existence and motion of planetary objects, cosmology examines the properties of these objects (e.g.origin and composition), while astrophysics uses the laws of physics and chemistry to understand their nature.
There are many LGBTQ scientists studying these subjects, and they are part of a wider community of students, faculty, staff, and librarians. To ensure that their work be undertaken without any degree of personal bias, harassment, or discrimination, they have organized themselves into a group called The Outlist of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, and Ally Astronomers.
LGBTQ scientists tend to be absent when high profile lists of prominent LGBTQ individuals are compiled. One of the reasons is that, by the nature of scientific research itself, one’s sexual orientation is rarely conveyed in the output. This lack of visibility of participation and success raises concerns that it deters young people from choosing science as a career in the first place.
In a 2014 survey by the Royal Astronomical Society, of those who responded, 3% identified as bisexual, 4% as gay men, and 0.2% as lesbian (of the 77.5% male respondents and 21.3% female). Another survey in the United States (2015) showed a lack of protection for LGBTQ scientists from harassment. There was a noted sense of isolation and marginalization amongst the respondents. Social norms have encouraged LGBTQ scientists to stay in the closet. Indeed, over one-third of LGBTQ scientists considered leaving their department or workplace in the past year, based on a bad experience.
This shows that there is a need for change and improvement. The fact that a lesbian, Nergis Mavalvala, was a prominent member of the group of scientists, who recently proved Einstein’s theory of the existence of gravitational waves, is a big step forward.
Queerbio has compiled a list of LGBTQ astrophysicists, and cosmologists, that they have been able to identify. They hail from Canada, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia.
To see the list and their biographies, CLICK HERE
For more LGBTQ biographies, go to: