Proud Crick

Proud Crick is the Crick’s volunteer-run network for our LGBT+ staff and allies. On the second annual LGBTSTEM Day, we’re talking to five of the network’s committee members about their paths to the Crick, and about the importance of being vocal when it comes to LGBT+ issues in science.

Gunes Taylor

Güneş Taylor

Gunes Taylor

Güneş has been a postdoc in Robin Lovell-Badge’s group at the Crick for the past two years. She studies the mechanisms of sex determination and is the bisexual rep for Proud Crick.

Tell us a bit about your work at the Crick

I study the mechanisms driving primary sex determination, specifically ovarian development, and slightly unusually, we use chicken embryos to model these processes.

How did you first become involved with Proud Crick?

Basically, I’m not uncomfortable about many things but I realised that I actually was uncomfortable about mentioning that I was queer at work. It wasn’t something that I was actively hiding, but I certainly didn’t bring it up a huge amount.

Biphobia, the unique discrimination that bisexual people can receive from both the gay and straight communities, can be a genuine worry. Also, non-traditional relationship set-ups can cause latent social stress at times. I wanted to channel that discomfort and concern into something that would hopefully help people to not feel that same discomfort in the future.

What would you hope for the network in ten years’ time?

I honestly hope that in ten years, being queer in the workplace is a total non-issue. I hope that initiatives like Proud Crick can become very light-touch, focused on creating links with other staff networks, like PRISM (the Crick’s BAME network) and Enable (the Crick’s disability and neurodiversity network), and eventually become an integrated support network for everyone.

Labelling ourselves is a complex issue. If you define a group of people by one specific characteristic, you’re arguably not seeing them as whole individuals. I’m looking forward to us thinking and speaking about these issues in a more nuanced way in ten years’ time.

Kevin Ng

Kevin Ng

Kevin joined the Crick in 2017 as a PhD student in George Kassiotis’s lab. He studies how retroviruses regulate immune cell responses and is Proud Crick’s Pride Coordinator for 2019.

Did you always want to be a scientist?

I wasn’t particularly interested in science throughout high school. I wanted to be a journalist until I discovered the process of doing scientific research and I was hooked. Research and journalism actually involve very similar thought processes – you question things and then you articulate your thoughts on them.

When did you get involved with Proud Crick?

It was actually quite recently. I wasn’t here for the London Pride parade last year and when I heard that they were looking for someone to organise this year’s contribution from the Crick, I jumped at the chance. It’s a key part of the Proud Crick calendar and you get the opportunity to contribute to something tangible and important. And honestly, I knew that it would be fun!

Why do you think it’s important to have an LGBT+ network?

The key reason behind having a staff-run network like Proud Crick is the visibility that comes with it. As scientists, we sometimes like to think that we’re completely objective and that things like this don’t matter. However, in reality that’s not always true and the network plays an important role in encouraging and supporting people to be themselves at work. 
Externally, and at events like Pride in particular, we get to show that scientists as a group are incredibly diverse. We have the opportunity to break down preconceptions and show people who might not think science is for them that they’ll be welcomed.

Jamie Barrett & Chris Quilter

Jamie Barrett & Chris Quilter.

Jamie is a research scientist in our Biological Research Facility and Chris is a personal assistant at the Crick. Together, they co-chair Proud Crick.

Tell us a bit about your work at the Crick

Jamie: I manage a small team of technicians who work with the animals used in research at the Crick. I studied animal sciences at university and actually worked as a veterinary nurse assistant and at a wolf sanctuary before starting here in 2013.

Chris: I originally joined the Crick as a research officer, supporting the Crick's scientists, but I now work in the executive support team and support the Crick’s senior management.

Why do you think it’s important to have an LGBT+ staff network?

The network has two main purposes – we create a safe place to acknowledge and support the Crick’s LGBT+ staff and we also work to inform Crick staff more widely about LGBT+ issues and advise on policies. We also run events at the Crick and further afield, from informational sessions to drop-in coffee mornings.

The Crick is a relatively young organisation so we have the chance to help set the agenda for how things are going to be done here. We’re aiming to be a world-class institute with our science, so we should aim to be a world-class employer.

What hopes do you have for the future of Proud Crick?

On a practical level, we’d love to get our Stonewall accreditation and be recognised as a top employer for LGBT+ people. We’ve already started but we also want to collaborate more, both with the other staff networks at the Crick, and with networks at other organisations. We’re really keen to create a community. 

Dennis Hoving

Dennis Hoving

Dennis joined the Crick in 2017 as a PhD student in Veni Papayannopoulos’s lab. He studies innate immunity and systemic fungal infections and is Proud Crick’s Events Manager.

How did you become interested in science?

My parents encouraged me to appreciate nature, so my interest in biology was pretty much always there. However, my biology teacher in high school was the major factor in my decision to work in science. He had a real skill for passing on his passion for life sciences and it made me realise the importance of growing up with motivated teachers and role models.

When did you get involved with Proud Crick?

I got involved with the Proud Crick network nearly two years ago, shortly after I arrived at the Crick. I wanted to have a space where LGBT+ related human rights, public health, mental health and cultural differences could be discussed. I also think it’s really important for institutes to have visible LGBT+ staff. I was particularly happy to see that there are visible LGBT+ senior scientists and high-profile staff at the Crick.

Why do you think that it’s important for LGBT+ people in science to be visible?

Science is an international field of work and scientists themselves often move from country to country. Representation is important to make sure that people with different cultural backgrounds and beliefs work in a supportive environment where they can feel free to be themselves. Diversity of any kind should be accepted and celebrated for a healthy and productive work environment. 

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