July is Disability Pride Month, a time to celebrate, amplify, and learn about what it means to be disabled in STEM. We teamed up with Disabled in STEM and asked eight scientists what they’d like you to know about what it means to be disabled in STEM.
Here’s what they had to say.
For the visually impaired: Text transcripts of the graphics are below the images.
Issac Gendler (@IsaacResilience): “My personal fact would be to let administration know of your disability as soon as possible (and try to get it in writing). That way if a conflict comes up, you will have something to support yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing it with your mentor, you can just share it with human resources instead.”
Ariana Castillo (@arianaelena97): “STEM oftentimes embraces a culture where lack of sleep and amount of work completed are worn like badges of honor, which was detrimental to my depression, anxiety, panic, and bipolar disorders. I’ve learned that it’s okay to take time for yourself to focus on your mental health — you come first, then your work and/or academics. For me, it saved my life.”
Kelsey Byers (@plantpollinator): “The assumptions of other people are more disabling sometimes than my actual disabilities. People assume I can’t do fieldwork because I use a wheelchair when in fact I can (with some modifications)!”
Daisy Shearer (@QuantumDaisy): “While being autistic in STEM has its challenges, it is fundamentally part of the reason I am a good scientist. My neurotype means that I am precise, detailed, and often think ‘outside the box’– approaching problems in ways that others can’t which is sometimes exactly what is needed in research!”
Megan Lynch (@may_gun): “Stephen Hawking was already in academia when he became disabled. Disabled people who could make a great contribution to STEM sometimes do not get that chance because we’re in the 21st century and still have inaccessible schools/labs/fieldstations, few scholarships/fellowships for disabled people, and programs that trumpet diversity yet routinely do not consider disability to be part of diversity.”
Stephen Klusza (@codebiolgist): “Many scholarships and grants for underrepresented groups continue to omit disability as a criterion for application. There is no better deterrent to diversity inclusion in STEM than forcing disabled people to compete with the abled majority for a place at the table of science.”
Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku (@Ecper97): “Being Deaf in STEM can sometimes feel frustrating and isolating, but having supervisors, mentors, and peers who value your identity and put in effort to be inclusive goes a LONG way. Seeking out resources and other peers with similar backgrounds to encourage and support each other has been incredibly helpful in my efforts to apply to medical schools.”
We have included the Twitter handles of the eight scientists featured in this series so that you can learn more about their research and connect with them. We Rep STEM and Disabled in STEM is honoured to have been allowed to share their perspectives about what it means to be Disabled in STEM.
These eight individuals have worked hard to be successful in an often inaccessible environment — and the inaccesability needs to change. Whether identifying as disabled or as an ally, please take an active role to help support those with disabilities, whether visible or not.