The sixth webinar in the Building a better chemistry culture series focuses on how the chemical sciences can best support and retain LGBT+ individuals. In advanced celebration of #LGBTSTEMDay, we heard from LGBT+ scientists, who are also leaders in inclusion and diversity, to learn about the impact that being supported to bring one’s full self to work can have on scientific output and mental health.

Our speakers, Clara Barker (manager of the Centre for applied superconductivity, University of Oxford), Izzy Jayasinghe (UKRI future leader fellow and senior research fellow, University of Sheffield) and David Smith (professor of chemistry, University of York) discuss:

  • The need to eradicate LGBT+ discrimination and exclusionary behaviour, as supported by findings in the report Exploring the workplace for LGBT+ physical scientists jointly published by RSC, IOP and RAS
  • Inequalities experienced within the LGBT+ umbrella, particularly for trans, non-binary and ethnic minority individuals
  • How LGBT+ visibility and allies both play an important role in building welcoming environments
  • A new toolkit of LGBT+ inclusivity resources for the chemistry community, created by the Royal Society of Chemistry

BSL interpretation is provided for the live webinar by Rachael Dance, Cambridgeshire Deaf Association.

Clara Barker

Speaker:  Clara Barker 

Clara Barker is a thin-film material scientist who manages the Centre for applied superconductivity, in the materials department at Oxford University. She is chair of the LGBT+ advisory group to Oxford University and the Dean for equality and diversity at Linacre College, as well as a member of the Royal Society’s equality and diversity Committee. In 2018 she won the first VC’s diversity role model award from the University. She runs a youth group for LGBT+ young people, is a Stonewall school role model, and presented a talk at a TEDxWomen London event in 2018. For her volunteer work she won a Points of Light award from the UK Prime Minister in 2017. 

Izzy Jayasinghe wv

Speaker:  Izzy Jayasinghe

Izzy Jayasinghe is a senior research fellow in the University of Sheffield and a transgender woman of colour and a lesbian. Having worked in five universities (in three countries) over the last 10 years, she recognises the potential for universities and academia to provide an oasis for LGBT+ people as well as people of ethnic minorities. Izzy currently holds one of the prestigious research awards – the UKRI future leader fellowships – and works towards democratising technology so that it is accessible to everyone. Working around her scientific research, she dedicates her time in efforts to promote the inclusion of women, LGBT+ and people of colour in universities and to combat disinformation.


David Smith wv

Speaker: Dave Smith

Dave Smith is professor of chemistry at the university of York, where he carries out fundamental research into smart nanomaterials and nanomedicines. He is a passionate educator, having given outreach lectures to thousands of UK school students and developing his own YouTube chemistry channel, with over half a million views. He has been a global advocate on LGBT+ issues within science for a number of years and has written, lectured and given many interviews on the subject. In recognition of this work, he was shortlisted for the ‘Gay Times’ Barbara Burford Award. As a bereaved single parent to his adopted son, Dave has also been influential in shaping discussions around support for carers, and the roles of fathers in modern science. Dave is well-known from Twitter, where as @professor_dave he has over 20,000 followers.


Rachael Dance, BSL interpreter and advocate

Interpreter: Rachael Dance

Rachael Dance is training to be a fully qualified British Sign Language interpreter and graduated from Wolverhampton University with BA hons in interpreting English and BSL. Rachael is joining us to promote the accessibility of the webinars for Deaf people. Rachael also works as an advocate for Deaf people for Cambridgeshire Deaf Association.


Ben Valsler

Moderator: Benjamin Valsler, digital editor, Chemistry World magazine

Ben is the digital editor of Chemistry World magazine, producing video and podcasts to accompany the magazine and website. Prior to joining the Royal Society of Chemistry, he was the producer of the award-winning Naked Scientists, making local and national radio programmes for the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Primedia in South Africa.

Royal Society of Chemistry logo

Chemistry World and the Inclusion and Diversity team at the Royal Society of Chemistry are proud to offer a monthly webinar series to support the chemical sciences community in response to and beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout the Building a better chemistry culture series, we will illuminate the science behind the issues being experienced and provide support tailored to the needs of chemical scientists including sharing coping strategies and reducing stigma around mental health and wellbeing.

The Inclusion and Diversity team drives and coordinates the strategy across all Royal Society of Chemistry activities to support a more inclusive and diverse chemical sciences community. Through research, advocacy and recognising success, we are working to make ‘chemistry for everyone’ a reality. Find out more about our work here.