Being ‘Out’ in STEM: Meredith Whitten MEM’19 (Science)
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Being ‘Out’ in STEM: Meredith Whitten MEM’19 (Science)

(gentle vibes playing) (soft guitar music) – [Meredith] First name
Meredith, last name Whitten. I’m a Master’s of Environmental
Management candidate with a concentration in Coastal
Environmental Management. I think for the most part,
as far as being out in STEM, it hasn’t really been an issue for me. I think the science community
has been very accepting of queer people in general,
and that’s been my experience. It’s been very positive. Science can be so demanding. It’s not like a normal career. It becomes your everyday, your all day. It’s very all-consuming. The people that you’re around
become very much your family, and become your support system on the days when your experiments aren’t working, and when you’re struggling to write, and you’re having a hard time. You need those people who are
around you to help you out, and I think being out
in STEM lets you be open with who you are, lets you sort of be more open
with the people around you so that they can support you more fully because they understand
you more as a person. I think it does make me a
little more open-minded, so a lot of the work I do
is looking at fisheries, and sometimes when you’re
allocating resources especially, you end up with minority
groups being marginalized and not being considered. And, I think it helps me in general to sort of consider the
perspective of minority groups. Where we’re at now is that
so many people don’t realize what they don’t know, and they don’t see their own biases, and I think that sometimes you just need to point them out very directly and say you’re not seeing your own biases, you don’t know what you’re not seeing. And I think pointing out
some very specific examples from a different person’s point of view, explaining how two people can
be viewing the same situation and getting very different
experiences from it, is important. One of the things that I
would really like to see is more sort of inclusion of
majority groups in some of these minority group conversations. So, for example, there
have been a number of times when they’ve brought like women in science to come talk to women
about the experiences and the challenges you might face going
forward in your career. And I find that in these conversations, there are never any men in the room. Which on the one hand is important, because I think that
minority groups need spaces for themselves and
conversations for themselves, but I would love to see more
inclusion of majority groups in some of these
conversations so that, like, men could hear the challenges that their female colleagues are facing that they don’t necessarily think about. I think that if you do
come out, that you’ll find that there’s more acceptance
than you necessarily thought that there would be, and it won’t be as scary
as you think it will be. And for the most part, even if
some people will reject you, you’ll find hundreds
more who will accept you. (soft guitar music)

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