oSTEM is a national LGBTQ-affirming organization whose mission is to:
- Provide services and support for students of sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Create a dynamic network between students and professionals in industry and academia.
- Provide education, outreach, and professional resources to high school students.
- Actively recruit and address the needs of diverse groups within the LGBTQA community, inclusive of those who are historically underrepresented with regards to gender and ethnic background.
History of oSTEM
In October 2005, IBM sponsored a focus group where students convened at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington D.C. as part of the Out for Work conference. These students discussed topics relevant to LGBTQ communities at their own colleges and universities and debated how to form an organization that serves students in the STEM community.
oSTEM emerged from that meeting as a new national technical student society for LGBT communities.
Before oSTEM, there was no inclusive organization dedicated to serving LGBTQ students in STEM, though other organizations had celebrated and supported diversity in science and engineering through other professional societies, such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and others.
In order to advance LGBTQ STEM students, five chapters collaborated to found oSTEM Inc. in 2009 with 501(c)(3) status by December 2010. In 2017, oSTEM, Inc. expanded its mission to be inclusive of professionals, serving all LGBTQ people in the STEM community.
oSTEM at Penn State
After its inception as the founding chapter of oSTEM, oSTEM at Penn State has continued to grow in size and partner with other LGBTQA, STEM, and professional organizations on campus, along with programs such as the Penn State LGBTQA Student Resource Center.
Today, oSTEM at Penn State has over thirty active members along with hundreds of alumni, many who have found success in pursuing internships and/or long-term positions through the professional events oSTEM at Penn State hosts and through the oSTEM Annual National Conference.