My name is Kieran Bullivant, and I am a 21-year-old apprentice at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
For some people that seems very young, and I’m certainly younger than many of my colleagues and at a much earlier stage of my career, but I have still been welcomed into the STEM community. I came with preconceived ideas, and yet what I have seen really surprised me – it’s a very different world than what you imagine!
To be frank, when I began my Engineering Technician apprenticeship, I was expecting to be walking into a world where I would be alone. The only one on the LGBT+ spectrum in the entire company, which at the beginning felt pretty isolating. But as I’ve learnt, grown and made new connections, I have discovered that that’s not the case. It turns out STEM is so diverse, from the work we all do to the people who do it to the projects we work with, that none of us is really alone and I’m not isolated at all.
I have previously hidden my sexuality. I have been turned down from roles because I have a rainbow in my hair, a rainbow that for me is a token of personal pride and diversity. I’ve avoided talking about my pronouns, or about how it’s important to show the next generation that you can be yourself and still get the career you want to have.
But at the MTC, I’ve been allowed to simply be me. To freely and wholeheartedly be me and to work without fear. I’ve been able to speak to decision-makers about highlighting and supporting LGBT+ inclusion at work, and they not only heard me – they listened.
As a result, I’ve been able to launch an internal community group to network with other LGBT+ people and our allies at work. We do this without fear and, even more importantly, with support.
LGBT+ History Month is a good time to reflect. On the distance that we’ve come in the fifty years since the Stonewall riots, certainly, since Trans women of colour said ‘we are here, and we matter’. And of course on what more we need to do, and what further work we need to happen.
But also on the fact that I can be in an environment where I can be out at work, supported, without discrimination, and surrounded by people of colour, women, and those on the LGBT+ spectrum, out or not (and in STEM!) I know I am very lucky and very privileged to be able to say and experience that statement.
I’m aspiring to finish my apprenticeship and become a chartered Technician, and I hope that as I progress, I can see the progress in the next generation throughout industry too. I hope we can all see, support and experience the diverse culture that I know STEM can be.
Workshop Apprentice and Wellbeing Champion,
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)