Pride month reminds us of continued inequities in science

The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which was one of the formative events of the movement for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people in the United States. For many years, the month of June has been celebrated as Pride month, in part to commemorate the events that occurred at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969. During June, we fly rainbow flags, hold celebrations, rejoice in legal and social changes, and remind people of continued struggles and inequities.

But why should the American Society for Cell Biology be a platform for a blog about LGBTQ+ Pride? Science should be open and an equal opportunity for all, right? Of course, we all know that’s not completely true. In fact, LGBTQ+ scientists are likely to experience harassment and social isolation in education and the workplace, and LGBTQ+ students are more likely to leave STEM fields than non-LGBTQ+ students. As scientists and as a scientific society, we aim to help identify and remove barriers to success for all in the field of cell biology.

The ASCB LGBTQ+ Task Force was formed in 2015. We are made up of ASCB members at all career stages and, as a task force, we undertake multiple activities to help ASCB ensure that the Society is a diverse and inclusive professional organization. For the rest of June, a few members of the Task Force will introduce themselves via blog posts here. They will tell their stories, discuss why they joined the Task Force, and describe their vision of a diverse and inclusive ASCB.

martin kampmann

Martin Kampmann, Assistant Professor from UCSF.

One of our main activities is to organize the LGBTQ+ Session at the Annual Meeting. This session begins with a scientific talk by a prominent LGBTQ+ cell biologist and is followed by a career and networking discussion. This session has been very successful, and attendance has grown every year. Previous speakers have included Joanne Engel (2014), Matt Welch (2015), Clare Waterman (2016), Fred Chang (2017), and Martin Kampmann (2018). We are currently accepting nominations for the 2019 Speaker – the speaker should be an established cell biologist who can speak about both their science and their professional journey as an LGBTQ+ scientist. Nominations should be sent to Ashanti Edwards at by July 1, 2019.  Self-nominations will also be accepted.

One of the other activities of the Task Force is to sponsor the LGBTQ+ Travel Grants. These grants were initiated to help talented young LGBTQ+ scientists attend the ASCB/EMBO Meeting.  Applications are currently being accepted here.

The LGBTQ+ Task Force has been generously supported by the ASCB and ASCB Council, but we need your help if we are to expand our activities, give more travel grants, etc.. This Pride Month, please consider making a donation to ASCB and selecting the LGBTQ+ Task Force to target your gift to support our activities.

Happy Pride!

Lee Ligon and Ashley Lakoduk, ASCB LGBTQ+ Task Force Co-Chairs


About the Author:

Lee Ligon is an Associate Professor of Biology and Associate Dean of Science for Academic Affairs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Follow Lee on Twitter at @DrLigon.
Ashley is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Sandra Schmid at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She is investigating the mechanisms of focal adhesion turnover by clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Email: Twitter: @alakoduk