Chris O’KeefePost-doc Chris O’Keefe enjoys a cupcake courtesy of the chemistry department in celebration of LGBT+ in STEM Day.

Celebration acknowledges contributions of LGBT+ scientists

It is important for science to be a place where everyone feels welcome, says professor James Gauld, acting head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

His office distributed rainbow-iced cupcakes, chocolate bars, and other treats Thursday in observance of the first International Day of LGBT+ People in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

“The day is to welcome, recognize, and celebrate the contributions of LGBT+ people to STEM", Dr. Gauld said. “Diversity and inclusivity are important to STEM in particular, since we didn’t always provide role models to inspire younger members of marginalized groups.”

Varying groups had designated July 5 as a date to acknowledge members of LGBT+ communities; this year, Pride in STEM launched it as an international celebration for the first time.

“It is being marked by institutions, science societies, and departments around the world,” said Gauld. “We must demonstrate that we can provide a community where everyone feels they can contribute and be themselves.”

He noted that the date can be written as 507, the wavelength in nanometres of the colour green used in the rainbow pride flag: “You’ve got to watch out when nerds get involved!”

Chris O’Keefe, a post-doctoral fellow working with professor Rob Schurko, said he appreciated the effort.

“As a member of the LGBT community, I think it’s important to celebrate its contributions to science,” he said. “Plus, free cupcakes.”