Counted at last: US federal agency to pilot PhD survey with questions on LGBT+ scientists

Read the full story in Nature.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a pilot project to track sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) demographics when it releases its yearly census of all recipients of research doctorates at US institutions this year.

The annual Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which launched in 1957, collects demographic information on the sex, race and ethnicity, scientific discipline, debt burden, disability status and citizenship status of new PhD recipients, among other information. NSF publishes the results on its website and shares this information with degree-granting institutions in the United States.

SED data has typically been used by government agencies, academic institutions and industry to track the careers of women, people of colour and people with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But to date, the SED has not looked into the career progression of scientists who are members of gender or sexual minority groups (LGBT+).

Collecting these data will help the NSF and other agencies to analyse employers’ policies and procedures for addressing unintended barriers to employment, advancement and inclusion, said Charles Barber, NSF’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a statement to Nature. “This gives us an opportunity to create more opportunities and broaden participation to yield equitable outcomes for the LGBTQIA+ community and others.”

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