Gender and sexual minorities in astronomy and planetary science face increased risks of harassment and assault

Author: 1. Christina R. Richey,; 2. Katharine M.N. Lee,; 3. Erica Rodgers,; 2. Kathryn B.H. Clancy,


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, pansexual, asexual, and/or nonbinary (LGBTQPAN) people are a vulnerable, yet understudied group in the American STEM workplace. Only recently have efforts been made to assess their workplace experiences and levels of representation in STEM. In this paper, we sought to explore the experiences of LGBTQPAN individuals in the astronomy and planetary science community. We conducted an internet-based survey of the workplace experiences of 474 astronomers and planetary scientists. We hypothesized LGBTQPAN women and gender minority respondents in our sample would observe negative remarks or directly experience verbal or physical harassment in higher proportion compared to cisgender, straight women, a more commonly studied group. We found support for this hypothesis. LGBTQPAN women and gender minorities also observed more homophobic and transphobic remarks from their peers, and were more likely to feel unsafe at work due to their race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, compared to cisgender, straight women. They were more likely to be verbally harassed due to sexual orientation and gender identity, and were fully twice as likely to be physically harassed due to gender or sex. Based on our sample, we suggest that LGBTQPAN women and gender minorities experience a more hostile workplace climate in astronomy and planetary science compared to cisgender, straight women.

Richey et al LGBTQPAN

Affiliation: 1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA, 2. Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA, 3. Space Science Institute,Boulder, Colorado, USA,