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Experience an empowering space for LGBTQ+ STEM students with Graduate Out in STEM

LGBTQ+ Pride Flag

Cultivating environments and communities that nurture innovation, leadership and advocacy is the mission of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) Incorporated, a national organization that empowers LGBTQ+ people in STEM to succeed personally, academically and professionally. Indiana University School of Medicine and IUPUI School of Science brought a chapter of the national organization to the Indianapolis campus in 2018, called Graduate Out in STEM (GoSTEM).

From witnessing and experiencing the need for an LGBTQ+ focused environment, a core group of students and faculty brought this safe space to IUPUI. The GoSTEM is a non-profit professional association for LGBTQ+ people in the STEM field. With over 100 chapters at colleges and universities for students and professional chapters in cities across the United States and internationally, GoSTEM is the largest chapter-based organization focused on LGBTQ+ people in STEM.

“GoSTEM allows people to have a space to discuss issues facing LGBTQ+ people in STEM, network with other scientists who share similar identities, and celebrate accomplishments of others. Having a chapter at IUPUI provides the additional benefit of specific experiences and perspectives at a local and university level,” said Kari Haines, GoSTEM treasurer.

The organization provides open access to a supportive community that works together to overcome the unique challenges facing LGBTQ+ graduate students in STEM. Meetings focus equally on building a community and developing professional skills. Monthly career chats with LGBTQ+ professionals in STEM provide networking opportunities and a safe space to address any LGBTQ+ specific concerns while navigating the professional world. The organization also offers ample access to personal advocates and resources to help guide members through any incidences of discrimination or harassment over identity.

Like the monthly career chats, GoSTEM hosts many events, including socials and cultural connections conversations around addressing systemic inequality for LGBTQ+ in STEM at IUPUI and other institutions. The current GoSTEM leadership is looking forward to hosting engaging events this year while also featuring allyship training for non-LGBTQ+ individuals to learn how to support and advocate for LGBTQ+ counterparts, fostering connections between LGBTQ+ undergraduates and LGBTQ+ graduate students and engaging in community outreach.

“Mentorship, outreach and teaching are especially important to me to inspire and empower the next generation of scientists, said Cherish Ardinger, GoSTEM undergraduate liaison. I was motivated to get involved as a GoSTEM board member to assist in developing a mentorship program for LGBTQ+ undergraduate students at IUPUI who are pursuing STEM majors. The goal of this program will be to connect undergraduate student mentees with graduate student mentors to provide a safe space in which they can develop their identity as an LGBTQ+ scientist, receive feedback on graduate school application materials and broaden their scientific network.”

Current leaders include:  2021 IU School of Medicine Graduate Out in STEM chapter

  • President, Mckayla Stevens, biochemistry and molecular biology PhD student
  • Vice President, Rebecca Davidson, biochemistry and molecular biology PhD student
  • Secretary, Chris Crawford, clinical psychology PhD student
  • Treasurer, Kari Haines, addiction neuroscience PhD student
  • Undergraduate Liaison, Cherish Ardinger, addiction neuroscience PhD student
  • Risk Manager, Colton Starcher, biochemistry and molecular biology PhD student

“Being a part of GoSTEM is empowering; it’s a great place to grow both personally and professionally. It has allowed me to feel confident and proud of my identity as a queer scientist and much less wary of navigating the professional world as a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Mckayla Stevens, GoSTEM president.

Please email for more information on how to join the GoSTEM student organization.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Jordan Lapsley

Jordan Lapsley is a Communications Assistant for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.