Table of contents
- Do I have to be ___ to join oSTEM?
- Joining oSTEM
- LGBTQ Questions
- Professional Development
- Do I need a LinkedIn?
- Do I need a resumé or cover letter?
- How do you confirm the companies that you’re partnering with are actually LGBTQ-friendly?
- Is the LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index an instance of corporations performing LGBTQ activism without any real action? Where rich companies only pretend to care about LGBTQ rights?
Do I have to be “out” to join “Out in STEM”?
No – so long as you are “out” to yourself. Coming out is a lifelong journey and we welcome you wherever you are in that process.
Do I have to be a “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) major to join “Out in STEM”?
No – all majors are welcome! The industry nights will specifically pertain to our LGBTQ STEM majors, but you are more than welcome to grab free food at our monthly gay brunch socials, ask questions at our Out Queer Texas A&M Professor Panels, attend our queer book club meetings, and/or participate in our Coming Out & Career workshops!
Do I have to be LGBTQ to join oSTEM? Is oSTEM exclusive to LGBTQ people?
No, but if you are straight, cisgender, and not questioning, we respectfully ask you to reconsider joining oSTEM. This is a safe space for a specific community with a specific mission in mind, and there are plenty of other professional STEM organizations on Texas A&M’s campus that you can join, like these.
Do I have to be a Texas A&M-College Station student to join oSTEM?
All LGBTQ folks from Blinn College and Aggies at any Texas A&M System campus are welcome to join our email list and Discord.
Are there dues?
There is a recommended, but not required, $15 USD entrance fee. We do not track or link entrance fee payments to your participation in oSTEM.
What’s the time commitment like?
You are free to only attend events that are relevant/interesting to you. If you are passionate about our mission and think you could make a good leader of oSTEM, you should come to a variety of different meetings to get the full scope of what we do and make friends with the leadership team.
What’s up with Discord? Do I need to download it?
You are asked to download Discord to benefit fully from your oSTEM membership. If you are in the Discord, have filled out the #welcome questionnaire, and are specified as one of the majors a company is looking for, we will personally contact and remind you about their recruiting event. If you’re not, we won’t. The Discord also exclusively contains:
- the most detailed information for each meeting
- information about Texas A&M LGBTQ scholarships
- national conference & career links, tips, and advice
- the LinkedIn pages of our recruiters, and their presentation meeting slides
- free copies of the Queer Book Club’s book
- online socializing spaces
- and a whole lot more!
Help!! How do I make friends in oSTEM?
Like you make friends anywhere else … but here are some suggestions!
- Attend the biweekly queer book club socials
- Attend the monthly free gay brunch socials
- Get people’s contact info if you talk to someone IRL and get a good vibe from them
- Post a funny tweet or meme in the Discord
What are the other queer, queer-friendly, or professional organizations on campus?
Known pro-LGBTQ organizations: FREE (Feminists for Reproductive Equity and Education), F4A (Feminism for Aggies), CMSA (Council for Minority Student Affairs), AAUW (American Association of University Women), Texas Rising, Young Dems BCS, YDSA, SDS.
Professional organizations for women & people of color: SWE (Society of Women Engineers), SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professionals & Engineers), SASE (Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers), NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), MAES (Mexican American Engineers and Students), SWISE (Society of Women in Space Exploration), and SEC (Student Engineering Council).
Whoa! Isn’t the word “queer” problematic?
Queer people using the word “queer” is an example of linguistic reclamation of a harmful slur, beginning in the 90s by academics & activists. You can learn more about this history and phenomenon on our Queer Theory page.
Do I need a LinkedIn?
If you’re looking for a post-college white-collar job in your specific STEM industry: yes, you should 100% get LinkedIn. That is absolutely the first website your older coworkers will look at when they look you up and the primary source of information to look up your own coworkers (everyone is nosy!). It really doesn’t matter whether you have 2 connections or 200. We also have our own private LinkedIn group so you can build those numbers within our organization!
If you’re going into academia: it’s not as necessary, but it could still prove helpful.
Do I give you my resumé? Will I ever need a cover letter?
oSTEM provides a resumé folder service for undergraduates and graduate students in specified majors that our industry partners request before they come and present. And friendly advice – industry recruiters do not want you to write a cover letter, like ever. Save that for grad school.
How do you confirm the companies that you’re partnering with are actually LGBTQ-friendly?
Companies must score the highest possible score of 100.0% on the latest annual report of the Human Rights Campaign’s LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index in order to recruit from us. The Corporate Equality Index has a long list of criteria1 that must all be fulfilled in order for a workplace to get a 100.0% score. This score is meant to give you a sense of safety and empowerment should you choose to come out and be your “authentic self” at your job.
However, we recognize no workplace is perfect. The 100.0% score doesn’t mean all 100.0% of your interactions working at a company are guaranteed to be free of homophobia or transphobia. It does mean, though, that you will have a very strong support network and friends in powerful places who you can turn to at your job. Please see the next question for a more in-depth, historical & theoretical answer to this question.
Is the LGBTQ Corporate Equality Index an instance of corporations performing LGBTQ activism without any real action? Where rich companies only pretend to care about LGBTQ rights?
Very good question. Arguably, no, and arguably, yes. We’ll stress that passing the criteria1 and earning the highest possible score of 100.0% on the index is genuinely2 difficult. There is a very lengthy and highly-detailed list of mandates3, all of which a company must fulfill, in order to get the score. The Human Rights Campaign’s review process looks for LGBTQ employee resource groups, workplace protections, gender-affirming healthcare plans, senior executive buy-in, and three instances of donating to and financially supporting the queer community (like advocacy groups, recruiting efforts, and Pride event sponsorships). Each section of the application requires documentation, documentation, and more documentation. The process of reviewing a company, applying for the score, and earning the score is always led by actual queer folks at the company who want to see more queer newcomers in their workplace. These are real, tangible actions: the 100% score is not handed out willy-nilly.
And in terms of liberal social change, the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (HRC CEI) has, over the years, pushed workplace protections further for gay and trans people by adding more requirements to its criteria at various points in 2006, 2012, and 20164. The HRC CEI has also enacted ten separate public pressure campaigns on large American companies between 2010 and 2020 to punish corporate wrongdoing against LGBTQ folks (see their “responsible citizenship” clause). However, one rightful critique of the HRC CEI, acknowledged even by their President5, is that the index ignores corporate donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians and PACs6. This has even led to the creation of organizations like Zero for Zeroes7, which challenges companies on the 100.0% list to stop donating to said politicians. Another fair critique of the list is in how large Fortune 500 companies, many of which have the people power (“organizational competency programs”7) to form and prioritize employee resource groups, hold outsize representation in the list, over small start-ups and medium-sized businesses.
In terms of a system change, a deeper analysis of capitalism and its interactions with gay & queer identities is warranted. Pride started as a protest in the U.S. – yet, as our rights have been folded into the interests of American capital within the past 30 years, the historical reality of queer struggle may be lost in Pride’s shiny new corporate branding. This new version of Pride8 is remarkably apolitical on the issues that matter to the most marginalized people in the LGBTQ community: affordable housing and health care, sex-work decriminalization, and an end to policing and incarceration9. And on an international scale, a new term has cropped up – “pinkwashing” – to describe a state or organization appealing to LGBTQ rights in order to deflect attention from or justify land theft and the exploitation of labor and resources in the Global South10. Critical schools of thought on the “rainbow capitalism” phenomenon began with John D’Emilio of Capitalism and the Gay Identity in 1983, and primarily continued with the acclaimed Jasbir Puar, who wrote the brilliant work Terrorist Assemblages in 2007. Another significant writer and scholar of this movement is Sarah Schulman of Let the Record Show, who coordinated the “Homonationalism & Pinkwashing Conference” in 2013. Entire courses at Texas A&M are taught on this matter with long traditions of queer scholarship. We recommend the following out queer TAMU professors to explore this topic with: Daniel Humphrey, Kris May, and Mikko Tukhanen.
Here are ten workplace scandals between 2010-2020 that led to the HRC docking 25 CEI points from a company or institution.
- 2010-2011, 2017-2018: Walmart (https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/wal-mart-lgbtq-rating.aspx)
- 2011: Target, Best Buy, 3 M Corp (https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2010/10/hrc-penalizes-target-best-buy-in-latest-corporate-equality-index-rating/)
- 2011-2012: Foley & Lardner (https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/foley_and_lardner_dinged_in_lgbt_ranking_because_of_work_for_clients_opposi)
- 2010-2012: Verizon (https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/verizon-response-re-alleged-connections-with-organizations-that-engage-in-anti-lgbt-activities/)
- 2010-2015: ExxonMobil (https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/its-time-for-exxonmobil-to-join-the-rest-of-corporate-america-and-protect-i)
- 2017-2020: Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article148901179.html, https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article143802834.html)
- 2018: Johns Hopkins Hospital (https://www.hrc.org/resources/johns-hopkins)