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‘You Belong’: Listening to CHOP LGBTQIA2S+ Voices in STEM

Published on June 26, 2024 in Cornerstone Blog · Last updated 2 weeks 6 days ago
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LGBTQIA2S+ in STEM

A diversity of perspectives in research allows us to care for patients of all backgrounds and orientations, identify the public health and policy needs impacting minorities, and conduct science that improves as many lives as possible.

By Jillian Rose Lim

At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, we believe in building an inclusive, representative, and welcoming scientific community. A diversity of perspectives in research allows us to care for patients of all backgrounds and orientations, identify the public health and policy needs impacting all minorities, and conduct science that improves as many lives as possible.

Currently, there is a lack of concrete data on one important segment of our diverse population in science, technology, education, and math (STEM): individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and Two-Spirit, (LGBTQIA2S+). Several reasons might account for this disparity, including a lack of demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), perceptions of unsupportive or biased work environments, or the personal choice not to disclose SOGI. Reports such as one in Scientific Advances suggest that the LGBTIA2S+ community is underrepresented in STEM and those who do pursue a STEM degree or career experience inequities and disparities.

This Pride Month 2024, meet three scientists nominated by CHOP Center of Emphasis leaders to share their stories, research, and advice for aspiring scientists including gender minorities. We are incredibly grateful to Elizabeth Walshe, PhD; Cassie Kline, MD; and Robert Grundmeier, MD; for joining us in celebrating and amplifying the visibility and voices of the LGBTQIAS2S+ community in STEM. Watch each investigator's full video at our landing page or through the links below.

'Know that you belong and are needed in STEM.'

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD (they/them)
Research Scientist and Member of the CIRP Leadership Council
Center for Injury Research and Prevention

"I use a convergent science approach to tackle the public health problem of young driver crashes and … develop simulated driving as a novel way to probe complex brain function. I'm also queer and non-binary. (…) My advice is this: Know that you belong and are needed in STEM. Do what you can to bring your diverse perspective to the table and to different challenges. Contribute to a culture of inclusion wherever you are, and take any opportunity you can to be seen and help those who are coming behind you."

Watch Dr. Walshe's full video.

'Stay focused on your true north.'

Cassie Kline, MD

Cassie Kline, MD

Cassie Kline, MD (she/her)
Attending Physician and Director of Clinical Research in Neuro-Oncology Group
Center for Childhood Cancer Research

"Within my role, I focus on early phase clinical trials for children and young adults with tumors of the central nervous system, including the brain and the spine. (…) In terms of advice that I would give to other gender minorities in STEM, and really anyone in STEM, is to always stay focused on your true north. And what I mean by that is really finding out what your mission is and what drives you, and constantly coming back to that mission even when there are missteps along the way or periods of self-doubt or lapses in self-confidence."

Watch Dr. Kline's full video.

'I encourage us all to be who we are.'

Robert Grundmeier, MD

Robert Grundmeier, MD

Robert Grundmeier, MD (he/him)
Section Chief of Informatics, Division of General Pediatrics
Clinical Futures

"When I started as a primary care pediatrician in South Philadelphia in the year 2000, I decided from the very beginning that I would never misrepresent who I was as a person. (…) Patients who have LGBTQIA2S+ topics at front-of-mind seek me out as a primary care pediatrician, which helps keep my work especially meaningful.

Although being open about one's LGBTQIA2S+ identity may not be the best choice for all, I have always found CHOP in both the clinical and research settings to be an open and affirming setting. To quote one of my daughter's favorite phrases, I encourage us all to be who we are, and to the extent that it makes sense for each of us, to feel comfortable bringing our whole selves to our work at CHOP."

Watch Dr. Grundmeier's full video.

For more information on DEI efforts at CHOP, please visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion site.