They/Them in STEM
As you can imagine, being a minority in STEM is difficult. It does not matter what you say or do, there will always be people to remind you that someone who looks or identifies like you, should not have input in the first place. Now imagine how much more difficult it is to be a minority in STEM when some refuse to even validate your existence. For non-binary people, this is their reality.
According to a 2019 study conducted by Pew Research Center, only 42% of Americans believe that there should be other options for gender besides man and woman on forms like driver’s licenses or college applications (1). More harmfully, 32% of Americans stated that society is “too accepting” of non-binary people. In a country as divided about the existence of one’s identity, it is undeniable that trying to make it into a field predominantly occupied by men and women can certainly complicate things.
This is not to discourage non-binary people from entering the field, though. In fact, it should be encouraged for them to do so. With more people identifying as gender-neutral over the past few years, there is more of a need for non-binary doctors, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and the list goes on (2). Without gender-neutral doctors, for example, non-binary patients risk “being outed due to a name or gender mismatch on an insurance card, being completely denied care or even being left to die” (3).
Our society is constantly evolving and it is vital that we change with it. So, if you identify as non-binary and have concerns about joining the STEM field, consider following through with your dreams. Your input is so important in making our country’s STEM careers more inclusive. There will be definite obstacles in your way, but ultimately your individuality is needed so much more than you might even know.
1. Graf, N. (2020, August 7). About four-in-ten U.S. adults say forms should offer more than two gender options. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/18/gender-options-on-forms-or-online-profiles/
2. Das, L. T. (2020, September 1). We need more transgender and gender nonbinary doctors. AAMC. https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/we-need-more-transgender-and-gender-nonbinary-doctors.
3. Kattari Assistant Professor of Social Work, S. K. (2019, July 8). Transgender and non-binary people face health care discrimination every day in the US. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/transgender-and-non-binary-people-face-health-care-discrimination-every-day-in-the-us-99732.