COSM Diversity & Inclusion News

October 2020


The Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter is delivered monthly via email during the fall and spring semesters and is always available on the new COSM D&I webpage. Send contributions and suggestions to any of the COSM D&I Ambassadors (list at the bottom of the newsletter and on the webpage).

This Month’s Theme: Gender & Sexuality

"STEM: More LGBTQIA+ role models needed! But will coming out cost you your career?”

Theme inspired by The International Day of the Girl Child and National Coming Out Day (October 11th)

Diversity Quote of the Month

"There's no magic wand for correcting diversity and inclusion...change happens one person at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time." Melinda Epler, TED Salon: Brightline Initiative, 2018

Fact Fuel for Data-driven Conversations

Fact: According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (Table 5.1), in 2016, men accounted for 50.3% and women for 49.7% for the attainment of STEM Bachelor’s degrees. In stark contrast, in 2017, the employment of women in STEM lags behind their male peers at all degree levels including the 4-year degree (Table 9-5).

Bar graph comparing men and women employed in the sciences at varying degree levels. Men outnumber women at all degree levels, with 70% of all STEM jobs and over 60% of all doctoral STEM jobs.

COSM Community D&I Spotlight

Jenn Zettler’s entomology lab not only includes a diverse group of students, she has taken students all over the country studying insects. Showing students that insects are everywhere is one way to “take a subject that might be considered dry and make it come alive.” That’s an important task, especially with squeamish students! Local salt marsh and barrier islands, North Georgia streams, Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, South Florida’s Big Cypress eco-region in the Florida Keys, South Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp – it’s easy to see how she has found ways to intrigue students with wide-ranging interests in entomology projects. Who expects someone applying for dental school to have studied composting with insects for a year? Or that students studying bacteria in insects as undergraduates in her lab are now in medical school?

Many students enjoy teaching others as well, which means that the outreach components of a research lab are also important. Jen showcases insect diversity for the STEM Field Experiences Day that Georgia Southern organizes for local K-12 classes, and annual workshops in the Savannah Science Seminar series, and her students have also been classifying and organizing a teaching insect collection with the goal of creating permanent databases for public research use.

Other News

  • EXCLUSIVE: Georgia Southern releases 27-page Inclusive Excellence action plan
    Meet Chief Diversity Officer Dr. TaJuan Wilson
  • $3.25 million grant provides scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged students to pursue graduate degrees in public health at Georgia Southern - Georgia Southern News
  • Physics and Chemistry Nobel Prize Announcements Feature Three Women
  • Physics--Andrea Ghez (Astrophysicist, won with Roger Penrose and Reinhard Genzel)

    Quote: “As I've gotten older, I've had a chance to think a little bit more about the question of diversity and one of the things that I think can be an asset is not being a part of the majority gives you an opportunity to do something that's new and different. It's often hard to do some things that are different, and if you're already different there is, I think, in some sense an opportunity, as long as you have the confidence, to do things that are indeed different.” - Andrea Chez Short Interview

    Chemistry -- Jennifer Doudna (Biochemist) and Emmanuelle Charpentier (Microbiologist) talk about what the Chemistry prize means to young women: Short interviews with Doudna and Charpentier

  • Is Lecturing Racist? - InsideHigherEd discusses the challenge and controversy
  • Following racist incidents, First-Year Experience courses add inclusive excellence curriculum
  • Gender-Minority Mental Health Study: Change Needed on Campuses

D&I Campus Connections and Opportunities

Gender and LGBTQIA+ organizations to check out:

University Opportunities:

External Opportunities

Silhouettes of varied people in a rainbow of colors on a black background. Text: Nationan Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. Do I belong in STEM? by Christine Dahlin

Case Study: Do I Belong in STEM?

From the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science - The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields have traditionally lacked diversity as compared to non-STEM fields, and have had difficulty retaining students from diverse backgrounds. This case study serves multiple purposes: to help students understand that fears and anxieties regarding the challenges of STEM are commonly shared among students, regardless of background; to provide students in the STEM field who have had little exposure to diversity training with an introduction to such teachings and its relevance to the STEM field; and to help students persevere in STEM fields despite the challenges that exist. Upon completing the case, students should have an increased socio-political awareness of the diversity issues pertaining to STEM and the broader culture. They should also have gained a greater appreciation for the manner in which STEM fields are enhanced by contributions from individuals from diverse backgrounds. This case also fosters network-building among students and is thus particularly appropriate for freshman classes.

Try This! – Use Pronouns for More Inclusive Introductions – Dive into Safe Space Training

One easy way to improve your inclusive teaching and make introductions more inclusive is to normalize introducing yourself with your pronouns.

Gender Diversity and Pronouns - Inclusive Teaching - UM

While on the topic of gender and LGBTQIA+, it might be helpful to seek out training that can help you understand cultural differences and terminology used by the LGBTQIA+ community.

Information about Safe Space Training at Georgia Southern

This Month's Theme: Gender and LGBTQIA+ in STEM

Factors Impacting the Academic Climate for LGBQ STEM Faculty

The analysis of 2010 data on the state of higher education for LGBTQ highlighted some factors that affect the overall academic climate in STEM for said individuals. Some variables investigated were climate, internal experiences, identity, sexual orientation, professional outness, and career consequences. The majority of respondents from STEM identified as male, gay, white, and had a rank of assistant/associate/full professor. Of these faculty, only 11.1% reported being out. It was determined that there was a statistically negative correlation between outness and comfort in STEM disciplines, with faculty who were out being 14 times less comfortable. Of the STEM faculty who experience exclusionary behavior (EB), most reported it stemming from derogatory remarks or being deliberately ignored. Most EB came from a supervisor, rather than a student. These factors (climate and EB) together statistically contributed to a STEM faculty member considering leaving. The implication of the overall climate in departments and institutions can impact retention, proportion, collaborations, and an overall sense of belonging in STEM.

The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

There continues to be a gap between men and women in STEM, especially in computer science and engineering. Key factors that AAUW attributes to this gap are gender stereotypes, male-dominated cultures, fewer role models for girls, and math anxiety for women. These factors lead to an overall confidence gap for girls, which ultimately leads to girls systematically tracking away from STEM fields. The gendered math gap between boys and girls presents differently when parsed out into different socioeconomic and racial groups. Read more on the American Association of University Women’s webpage and discover ways to close the gap.

The Invisible Minority in STEM

LGBTQIA+ identities, especially transgender and non-binary, have often not been considered as options for status as minority or underrepresented groups. This is usually because there has not been enough data collected around this demographic. As Emery points out in this article, they had a difficult time applying for funding with an NIH diversity grant focused on underrepresented groups. When they contacted NIH about eligibility for the grant, the response was that there are not enough demographic statistics on LGBTQ+ identities so they would not fall into an appropriate underrepresented group for funding eligibility. On top of funding issues, LGBTQIA+ individuals may not disclose their gender or sexual identity to colleagues for fear of how they will be treated or viewed in the workplace. This split identity between personal and professional lives can add to the stress of a job or decrease feelings of belonging and inclusion in a workplace environment.

Sexual Minority Students in STEM

Hughes investigated the differences in retention rates for sexual minority students (SMS) in STEM (News article, Journal article). It was found that SMS are retained 7% less overall in STEM compared to their heterosexual counterparts. This is despite SMS reporting to participate in undergraduate research about 8% more. When retention was looked at by gender, there were relationships that demonstrate the intersectional and overlapping nature of gender and LGBTQIA+ issues. In the study, it was found that sexual minority men’s probable retention rate was lower than their heterosexual counterparts and sexual minority women had a higher retention probability than their heterosexual counterparts. Mentorship and undergraduate research opportunities improved the likelihood of retention for sexual minority students.

Blue, grey, and gold fingerprints on a white background. Text: People. Purpose. Action: Growing ourselves to grow others. The GSU Strategic Plan

Reflective Moment

Have you encountered toxic workplace environments, what caused them?

Have you noticed colleagues, students, or even yourself implicitly/explicitly perpetuating microaggressions?

Have you heard of the term “mansplaining”?

Have you misgendered someone by accident?

Consider these questions as you watch this TED Talk by Melinda Epler. Think about the ways you might be able to improve your allyship towards others and improve your workplace environment.

3 ways to be a better ally in the workplace | Melinda Epler

Something you'd like to see? We'd love to hear from you.

Brigette, Karelle, and Ryan lead the COSM Diversity & Inclusion webpage & newsletter team. They’d love to hear from you, and you can also contact any of your COSM D&I Ambassadors if you would like to contribute to or comment on the newsletter - or discuss other D&I issues. The webpage also includes information on becoming an ambassador yourself.

COSM Diversity & Inclusion Committee Co-Leaders

  • Arpita Saha - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Brandon Quillian - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Karelle Aiken - Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Sabrina Hessinger - Mathematics


  • Amanda Klingel

  • Brian Koehler

  • Issac Taylor


  • Brigette Brinton

  • Geneva DeMars

  • Jennifer Brofft-Bailey

  • Johanne Lewis

  • Justin Montemarano

  • Marylou Machingura

  • Sara Gremillion

  • Sue Ellen Dechenne-Peters

Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Arpita Saha

  • Brandon Quillian

  • Brent Feske

  • Debanjana Ghosh

  • Karelle Aiken

  • Ryan Groom

  • Shainaz Landge

Geology & Geography

  • Amy Potter

  • Rob Yarbrough

  • Kathlyn Smith


  • Duc Van Huynh

  • Eryn Stehr

  • Jim Brawner

  • Kyle Bradford

  • Sabrina Hessinger

  • Stephanie Wiggins

  • Tuyin An

Physics & Astronomy

  • Hua-Jian Jason Liu