Say, Why Is Science So Darned Straight?

Things That Are Important at the Paper Of Record, as brought to us in the opinion section by Manil Suri

Why Is Science So Straight?

MANY years ago, over lunch at our university cafeteria, I came out as gay to a colleague in the engineering department. “I didn’t realize you were so unconventional,” he said. I tried explaining to him that being gay was innate and had nothing to do with wanting to subvert convention, but he refused to retract his label. Looking back, perhaps he was correct.

For I had violated an unspoken convention of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics): the invisibility of its L.G.B.T. members. (snip)

The lack of visibility isn’t restricted to academia. My partner, a civil engineer, recalls meeting just two other gay engineers professionally, in a 35-year career.

Statistics are hard to come by, but an analysis by Erin Cech, a sociologist at Rice University, of federal employee surveys found 20 percent fewer L.G.B.T. workers in government STEM-related jobs than should be expected.

Underrepresentation is just one factor that reduces visibility. Unlike women and minorities, whose status is usually obvious, sexual orientation is a hidden characteristic. The fact that a sizable proportion of the L.G.B.T. STEM work force is closeted (43 percent, according to a 2015 estimate) further deepens this effect.

Hmm, it kinda sounds like people want to focus on work, and do not really care what one’s sexual orientation is.

An essential step is to break self-perpetuating patterns of concealment. Teachers must come out not just to colleagues, but to students — some of whom will need role models, and all of whom must get used to visible L.G.B.T. professionals to prepare for future workplace settings.

In other words, forcing others to share in your personal life in a work environment. Personally, I do not care if you’re gay, or like to cross-dress during your off hours. I’d be interested in things like the type of books you read, where you like to go on vacation, what kinds of TV shows and movies you watch, etc. I do not need to know things about your sexuality, and that applies to heterosexuals, too. But, hey, this isn’t about getting to know someone, it’s all about Social Justice And Stuff!

More critically, STEM culture must rein in the pressure to separate professional and personal identities. It should view its workers more holistically, welcoming their interests and differences as sources of enhanced resourcefulness.

See? Social Justice And Stuff. Turning work into a cocktail party, rather than, you know, work. Maybe people just want to work, to solve the problems they are paid to solve, to build the things they are paid to build, to discover the cures they are paid to discover? No, sorry, can’t have that! We must have a Discussion Of Importance on non-work related Issues!

This sort-of goes with the notion that Burning Man is very, very White. Founder Larry Harvey made some silly comments on the subject, but, really, it comes down to “maybe there are some things that Whites like to do that Blacks don’t”. Are we to force Blacks to attend Burning Man?

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5 Responses to “Say, Why Is Science So Darned Straight?”

  1. alanstorm says:

    I feel sad for my profession that an engineer can’t do math.

    If you are part of a group that makes up 5% or so of the population, “unconventional” is indeed an apt descriptor, whether the trait is innate or not.

    IOW, Stop whining that everyone isn’t celebrating your gayness and do your job.

  2. Jeffery says:

    I do not need to know things about your sexuality, and that applies to heterosexuals, too.

    Do you object to a man mentioning his wife? And isn’t that a statement about his sexuality? What about a man who mentions his husband? Is that offensive?

    Only 16% of Americans have blue eyes, should we constantly point out how “unconventional” or “abnormal” they are?

    Having red-hair is even more rare than homosexuality; should we point out constantly how “unconventional” or “abnormal” they are?

    We get it. Conservatives don’t like homosexuals – partly because of religion, partly because of politics (gays tend to vote for Democrats). Rational conservatives recognize that they’ve lost this battle and are adjusting to a world where the oppression of homosexuals will not be tolerated.

  3. Jeffery says:

    Engineering is different from the true sciences.

    By nature and training scientists seek objective truths (admittedly, not always with success) and tend to be more open-minded and less religious than the general population, and hence more tolerant of homosexuality.

    Mr. Suri overgeneralized his experiences in engineering. It’s understandable that he considers himself a scientist (and curiously, as do physicians).

  4. jl says:

    More of Jeffrey’s assertions without any facts. What else is new?

  5. Jeffery says:

    More of j’s aspersions without specifics. Typical conservatard.

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