On St David’s Day 2023, we held our first LGBTQ+ STEM Careers webinar, compèred by Laura Roberts, Regional Coordinator for SE Wales.
With three speakers from the LGBTQ+ STEM community and Mark Etheridge, LGBTQ+ History Curator from Museums Wales, the talk covered different areas of chemistry, biology, physics and computing research, as well as their experiences as LGBTQ+ members of the STEM community in universities across the UK.
Our first speaker was Lara Lalemi – her pronouns are she/her, and she identifies as Queer. Lara is the CEO of Creative Tuition Collective and is also an Aerosol Chemistry PhD student at Bristol University. Lara Delivers a free, inclusive and accessible STEM tuition service, mental health support for students and Decolonising STEM workshops. Lara’s enthusiasm for being out and proud as queer, and the joy of having a supportive LGBTQ+ family and colleagues was infectious. She was able to share her passion for supporting LGBTQ+ and BAME people through her tutoring work as well as through her STEM networks which her PhD helped to facilitate. She was also keen to stress that sexuality is fluid, and coming to understand this has helped her find joy and acceptance.
Our second speaker, Aidan Seely – who uses the pronouns he/him, and identifies as a gay man – is a Lecturer in Pharmacology at Swansea University, and the Programme Director for the Medical Pharmacology. He spoke about his non-traditional route through university, highlighted the importance of work experience and networking with the right people to get to where you want to in your career. He is the first person in his family to go to university, and the first openly gay member, he was very open about his experiences and proved to be a great advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, combining his academic expertise with improving public information regarding inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ people.
Curator of LGBTQ History at Museums Wales, our third Speaker was Mark Etheridge, who talked us through the collection of items on display as part of the Wales is… Proud exhibition, which is free to visit at St Fagan’s National History Museum until July 2023. We were shown items Mark has collected from across Wales, including badges, banners, teapots and signs, all linked to Welsh LGBTQ+ groups, movements and protests. The items all had a personal story, which is an important aspect of the collection. The items can also be seen online here, as they have all been archived and digitised.
Our fourth and final speaker was Daisy Shearer, whose pronouns are she/they and they identify as non-binary and queer/pansexual/demiromantic. Daisy is a passionate science communicator and educator with a drive to make STEM more accessible and inclusive, particularly for disabled and neurodivergent people. They have just finished studying for a PhD in experimental condensed matter physics in the Photonics and Quantum Sciences Group at the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute. Daisy has found a passion for science communication, which they have made into their job at the National Quantum Computing Center. Daisy openly discussed their struggles with mental health and understanding their identity during their time at school and university, and highlighted how beneficial it was for them to get support, from family, friends and professionals. They explained how getting an autism diagnosis helped them make sense of why they often found things difficult and confusing. They now use their personal experiences and passion for physics to help and support others.
Keep an eye out for new episodes of the Technocamps podcast, Technotalks, as we will be recording an LGBTQ+ special very soon!