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Please note: this event has passed

Room: WBW G.8. Coffee and biscuits provided, and feel free to bring your lunch. An online link is available for those who can’t make it in person.

This session will be led by Liam Cini O’Dwyer, and chaired by Ratha Perumal.

This presentation depicts the findings from a pilot study conducted for a PhD thesis exploring issues of exclusion and participation of queer youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and other non-cisgender-heterosexual identities) in secondary school science education. To date there is very little research on queer youth/children; there is also very little research of queer experiences in science education. Certainly, there is no research of queer youth’s experiences of science education. As Hughes states, there is a “dearth of literature on sexual minorities in STEM” ​(Hughes, 2018, p. 385)​. The research behind this presentation seeks to redress this gap using a critically realist paradigm to ask: ‘what are the causal mechanisms which act as tendencies for queer youths’ exclusion or participation in science education?’

From what little research there is, it is known that queer undergraduate students are less likely to remain in STEM subjects, particularly gay men dropping out at a higher rate than other social minorities (Hughes 2018). Also, that pervasive prejudicial cultural norms and perceptions of competence in STEM: limit queer youths’ opportunities to succeed, result in a significant additional academic and emotional effort, leads to academic and social isolation ​(Cech & Waidzunas, 2011)​. This study seeks to build on this research using a modified biopsychosocial identity development theory as a lens to view and understand queer youth’s reasons for continuing or not with science education. A qualitative methodology was employed for the pilot study at a UK university, conducting semi-structured interviews with four undergraduates and nine postgraduates. Thematic analysis was enacted, and findings presented as a composite prose poem. The pilot study findings revealed many interesting insights, however, what appears to be most telling in response to the research question is the importance for queer youths’ sense of belonging as the causal mechanism which acts as a tendency in their exclusion or participation in science education. The presentation ends with limitations, implications, recommendations, and next steps.

About the Speaker

Liam’s career has included being a secondary school science teacher since 2003. He has held departmental and whole school leadership positions of responsibility in several schools before moving into academia. He continues to teach part-time at a secondary school in Westminster. Alongside teaching and school leadership and management, Liam has been closely involved in developing and delivering professional development for science teachers and aspiring school middle managers with a focus on best practices in teaching and learning. Liam joined King’s College London in 2019, initially completing a Master's in STEM Education before being awarded a Rosalind Driver studentship to study for a PhD. Alongside his studies, he lectures on the science education PGCE course at King’s

At this event

Liam Cini O'Dwyer

PhD Candidate

Ratha Perumal

PhD candidate

Event details

Waterloo Bridge Wing, Franklin Wilkins Building
Stamford Street, SE1 9NH