The Stars That Make Up the Rainbow
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30 Jun 2021

As June winds down and the most colorful month of the year draws to a close, we wondered what we could do to support the Pride message.

It’s a sad truth but the reality is that more than 40 percent of LGBTQ+ scientists remain closeted at work and nearly half of transgender or gender non-conforming physicists have experienced workplace harassment. These stats are not anomalies.

That’s why, while we have undoubtedly made progress, there is still work to do.

So, in the spirit of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, we thought it would be a great opportunity to shine a light on a notable few of the many brilliant and brave LGBTQ+ people in STEM.

Tim Cook

Apple CEO and LGBTQ+ sponsor Tim Cook is arguably the biggest name in tech today.

Together with Steve Jobs, he rescued Apple from its sharp fall in the mid-90s and brought it to its sensational comeback in the early noughties – thanks in no small part to the invention of the iPod.

Since then, he has stewarded the good ship Apple to success after success and is responsible for many of the fantastic products that are so instantly recognizable today.

Yet, Cook’s concerns do not lie solely with products, but also with human rights.

Most recently he has received press attention for his commitment to user privacy and is currently leading the charge for heightened data control for tech users.

Equally impressive, he led 8,000 Apple employees in San Francisco’s annual gay pride parade. In that same year, he also received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award for LGBT efforts.

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Sally Ride

Not content with being the first US woman in space, Sally Ride led a life impassioned by science and the great unknown.

In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science. Its aim was to properly educate young kids about STEM so that they could later take advantage of what she saw as an inevitable explosion of jobs in the field - I guess we can add visionary to her list of talents!

Later, she directed public outreach programs for NASA’s GRAIL mission – a groundbreaking operation that sent two twin satellites to the moon to map its gravity.

In commemoration of her achievements, the United States Postal Service printed and issued the Sally Ride stamp in 2018.

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Jack Andraka

What were you doing when you were 14 years old? Stressing over homework? Hanging out with friends? Well, Jack Andraka was busy developing a pancreatic cancer sensor that can diagnose patients 168 times faster and 42% more accurately than the most commonly used method.

While his sensor is not publicly available yet, Andraka has applied for a provisional patent and is communicating with companies about developing an over-the-counter test.

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On being an LGBTQ+ role model in STEM, he said; “I’m openly gay and one of my biggest hopes is that I can help inspire other LGBT youth to get involved in STEM. I didn’t have many role models [who are gay scientists] besides Alan Turing.”

Angela Clayton

Trans rights activist and physicist Angela Clayton was a commanding voice in the fields of nuclear critical safety and health physics. Her work was part of breakthrough legislation and research that led to safer nuclear power for people around the world.

She played a pivotal role in promoting trans equality in the workplace and became the first ‘trans observer’ for the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) LGBT Committee after trans people were added to the union’s remit.

In 2006, she received an MBE as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her services to gender issues.

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Ben Barres

As a neurobiologist at Stanford University, Barres’ groundbreaking work helped uncover how the human brain functions.

An advocate for marginalized minorities in academia, Barres transitioned in his late 40s and, in 2013, became the first openly trans man to be offered membership of the prestigious National Academy of Science.

Barres fought tirelessly against sexism and transphobia, drawing from his own experience as both a female and male scientist, stating; “People who don’t know I am transgender treat me with much more respect. I have had the thought a million times: I am taken more seriously.”

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LGBTQ+ At Cyberhawk

Good day, all. Welcome aboard Cyberhawk Airlines. Next stop: Equality and inclusion!

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We had a little bit of fun around the office with Pride this year. Equality and inclusion is a massive part of our ethos at Cyberhawk and ties in with one of our core beliefs as a company: to be open. We want our people to express themselves, be honest and have fun when they’re at work.

If you would like to learn more about LGBTQ+ work and individuals within the STEM fields, you can find great resources here. Equally, if you would like to donate to the cause, you can do so at the Pride in STEM charitable trust site found here.