Empowering all Women, in Space and on Earth

Spotlight Corporate: LGBTQ+ Group Meetings at RAL Space

The LGBTQ+ Group meets at RAL Space and is part of an STFC wide group that is also open to staff from across Harwell Campus, Culham Science Centre and the whole of UKRI. Group members can attend in person or join via Zoom. Kaylee Stick, Software Engineer in the RAL Imaging Systems Division and one of the group’s founding members, tells about the support available.

The LGBTQ+ group has two main functions – primarily it is there to provide support for the LGBTQ+ community across STFC and then alongside this we work with HR, helping them shape policy and actions within the organisation. A few years ago there was almost no visible support within STFC for the LGBTQ+ community, so we’ve been actively involved in both raising awareness and setting up a support structure.

Personal privacy and sensitivity towards our members is very important to the group, and is something we are very conscientious about in the way we run our mailing list and our meetings. Our meetings are held in RAL Space’s R100 building for ease of access – it’s located centrally on Harwell campus, but is outside the main Rutherford Appleton Laboratory gates.

We have an agreement with the R100 reception that allows us to welcome visitors on site informally as long as one of us from RAL Space is there to accompany them. This allows people who are a little bit unsure, or who are not out to certain groups of people, to come and join us at a meeting while keeping a degree of anonymity. The meetings provide support, information and sometimes we have guest speakers or organise other events – we had a virtual tour of CERN, for example.

If someone is looking for support from an LGBT peer or colleague – just to have someone to talk things through with – we can put people in touch with one another. When I came out and started my transition suddenly it felt like the entirety of RAL Space knew my name! I’m the only transgender woman within RAL Space, at least to my knowledge. That’s one of the reasons I’m always willing to talk about my experiences, it’s so important that people can see someone in the organisation they can relate to – whoever they are.

We’re also working to increase STFC’s visibility from an LGBTQ+ standpoint by acknowledging key dates like Pride Month. UK Research and Innovation, our parent organisation, supported Pride Month 2020 with a series of videos celebrating LGBT staff members.

As STFC one of the key initiatives we’ve been involved with is the LGBT STEM Day which is a national event organised by Pride in STEM. STFC is now one of the official supporters of the event which takes place annually on 18th November. Actions that might seem rather small, like incorporating the pride flag into our logos, or flying the Pride flag on campus during Pride Month all make a difference – it’s important that when someone looks at us as a potential employer, they see a supportive environment.

RAL Space invites you to the Appleton Space Conference on 3rd December 2020. Find out more here.

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