On June 3, PRISM hosted Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University for a roundtable breakfast discussion. She is an out lesbian scientist who researches how cell–surface interactions contribute to human health and disease, with regard to cancer, inflammation, and bacterial infection. In 2007, she was awarded the GLBT Scientist of the Year Award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.
People at Rockefeller Identifying as Sexual Minorities (PRISM) formed in late 2015 because we five founders saw a lack of formal LGBTQ+ community at Rockefeller University. Since we are the first group at Rockefeller focusing on LGBTQ+ issues, we had no data about what our community here looked like. So, as good scientists, we set out to get some! Over two weeks in January, we invited all Rockefeller community members by email to fill out a 5-minute survey about LGBTQ+ experiences.
The survey was a great success, garnering 191 responses from both LGBTQ+ folk and straight allies. While these data draw on a non-representative sample and are therefore incomplete, they provide a fascinating first glimpse into LGBTQ+ life at Rockefeller. Here are some main findings:
LGBTQ+ people exist at Rockefeller at all levels (except, notably, heads of lab)
LGBTQ+ people feel mostly safe at Rockefeller, but many remain guarded about their identities: More LGBTQ+ people than not say that science is a friendly place for them. However, many respondents are wary of disclosing their identities, especially around senior colleagues. Most respondents have not personally experienced bias or harassment, but those who have are disproportionately LGBTQ+, women, and especially both.
LGBTQ+ people have needs that PRISM can fill: a visible community, access to senior role models, and a community across NY institutions.
Next: data illustrating these findings.Read More
On Wednesday, February 17, PRISM hosted its inaugural event, a mixer for LGBTQ+ scientists and friends, at the solarium on the 38th floor of Scholars Residence across the street from campus, with sweeping views of the East River, Queens, and Midtown Manhattan. We were thrilled at the turnout for our "Coming Out" party—over 60 people. We are excited to create community for LGBTQ+ scientists at Rockefeller and beyond and look forward to planning future social and professional events.