Why should I become an oSTEM professional member?

We desire to help connect oSTEM professionals for the purpose of sharing technical knowledge, developing broad professional skills, and establishing a social network.  Becoming a member will connect you with other members globally, as well as locally, through tools such as our Member Portal and events such as the Annual oSTEM Conference, virtual global events, and local-based chapter events.  oSTEM was established in 2005, and as such, has a growing international network of student and professionals.  We also support chapters building their own tools and events to bring together members more locally.  Finally, our network helps academics and professionals connect with each other for mentorship and job recruiting opportunities.


How do I join oSTEM as a professional?

To become a global member, simply navigate to www.ostem.org and click the "JOIN" button in the top right.  From there, you can fill out a profile and gain access to our member center and career portal.  If there is an existing professional chapter in your city, select it as part of the registration process.  If not, you can select “global member” and connect with other members globally in the organization. Please use a personal email address, rather than a school or work one, as this will be the primary point of contact from the Professional Membership team.


How are oSTEM professional chapters different from other affinity or professional groups in my area?

We don’t aim to replace or replicate these organizations.  The objective of an oSTEM Professional chapter is to fill whatever gaps are missing in your city for LGBTQ+ STEM professionals.  This may include opportunities to hold development workshops on resume writing and interview prep, informational sessions on local issues and voting topics, or simply social gatherings for you to meet others in STEM fields.


How do I join or start a chapter in my city?

If your city has a chapter, you should be able to find it listed in the member portal.  There you can find contact information for chapter officers and information on any scheduled meetings/events. 
 
If your city does not yet have a chapter, step one is to gather interest in your city.  There’s no best way to do this, but some suggestions follow.  Don’t wait for someone else to take the initiative, you can do it! 
 
  1. Start small.  Gather some colleagues at your workplace (particularly if you have a LGBTQ+ ERG), possibly for a lunch to describe what oSTEM is.  Tap your social networks and ask friends to share with their own ERGs at their jobs.
  2. Reach out. oSTEM Professional Membership is here to assist all professional members, especially if you are forming a new chapter! Email the team at professional@ostem.org for any questions, advice, or support you might need.
  3. Plan an event!  A social at a local bar or free gathering space could work.  Just call ahead to see if they have space to host. 
  4. Start a listserv and/or social media page (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn) to get the word out when you have the event.  Once you have registered your chapter, the oSTEM member portal is a great way to connect with chapter members and share events. 
  5. Formally apply a chapter.  Not as hard as it sounds.  Once you’ve had a few events and have regular attendance, set a date to hold a vote.  (We recommend keeping the process simple.)  Your elected leaders should then fill out the application HERE and submit a short charter via the provided link in the application, which includes information on what your goals are as a chapter and when you will elect new leaders

The  History of Professional Membership

The first professional chapter launched in Boston, MA in August of 2018. We began by holding a casual gathering at a local bar, so that local LGBTQ+ STEM professionals could meet others like them in the city.  
 
We started by advertising through the monthly Global oSTEM newsletter and reaching out to other LGBTQ+ and STEM networks in the Boston area. Most importantly, we relied on our potential chapter members to share with their Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and social networks. We met monthly, with several companies hosting our events, eventually gaining regular attendance of around 30 people.
 
Professional Membership was required to temporarily shift to a broader, solely virtual scope starting in 2020. The team, made up of members in the U.S. & U.K., hosts a variety of events in both countries. Events include workshops, panels, networking, and game/TV nights. Despite the virtual scope, we continue to support the formation of city-based chapters, whenever possible.