#BiInSci Brings Visibility to Bis in STEM
“We’re expected to diminish ourselves for the sake of other people’s comfort. It’s hard to talk openly about being bi without having to defend the fundamental validity of our existence.” It was this experience with biphobia that led Isabel Ott to create #BiInSci. The University of Georgia undergraduate researcher launched the hashtag because she “wanted bis in STEM to have the chance to celebrate our identity as a community.”
“I started identifying as bi relatively recently, actually,” Ott shared when reached for comment about the hashtag’s success. “I don’t know if I would’ve been able to recognize, embrace, or share this part of myself if I hadn’t been able to talk to my openly bi friends about their experiences.” Since launching a week ago, Ott’s original tweet has garnered more than 2700 likes, over 750 retweets, and an abundance of bi folks in STEM fields commenting and tweeting their professions and visibility. It has also been covered by multiple news outlets, bringing Ott’s goal in sight. “I think part of my goal with the hashtag was to pay it forward—if my openness can help even one other person recognize their identity, I’d be thrilled.”
“I decided to tweet with the hashtag because I believe visibility is very important,” Melba, a biology undergraduate doing research in plant pathogenesis with an interest in scientific illustration, told me. “The world is always in need of more scientists and engineers and it is painful to see that people with amazing potential might not follow their academic dreams because they feel like they are not welcome or that they have to give up a part of their identity to belong.”
When asked about how it felt to be a part of #BiInSci, Melba shared, “It can take a lot of courage to come out in the STEM field and I’m very inspired and happy to see so many brilliant people comfortable in their career and identity.” About the response to the hashtag, creator Ott replied “I think the best part of the response has been the other scientists who’ve come forward and said, ‘Hey, I don’t always feel comfortable talking about this, but I’m bi and proud of it!’—that’s not something we get the chance to do very often.”
Thanks to Ott and all the folks tweeting with #BiInSci, it’s something we’ll all get the chance to do a little more.