Sex in the Library

Besides being an academic network, Out4STEM is all about making gender and sexuality more visible in scientific spaces. At our “Sex in the Library” event for March, we looked at some history to help us think about gender and sexuality in medicine.

Before getting into our Medical Historical Library, we generated a long list of scientific and slang words for male and female genitals. Besides being educational for me, this helped us think more about all the language we use to describe people’s bodies: “limp-wristed,” “broad shoulders,” “apple bottom,” “child-bearing hips.”

Language comes with a history, and medicine, of course, has always played a prominent role in determining how we talk about and think about our bodies. Here’s one example, the “rest cure:”


In the late 1800s, women were often made to stay in bed for weeks and weeks. This was sometimes prescribed for anorexic women, but it was also a way to control independent and outspoken women. They couldn’t get out of bed or even read, and sometimes they were force-fed! Looking at the before-and-after picture above, we can see that she looks less thin, but her hair is also done, and she has a more pleasant expression. It seems that governing properly lady-like behavior was among the many kinds of authority doctors once had.

Looking at this history helps us think about issues around gender and sexuality that still exist today. Transgender people, for example, still struggle to break free of the constraints placed on them by medicine’s (and society’s) assumption that people’s gender identities must align with their anatomy. Our discussion touched on this very recent clip from the Katie Couric show.

These kinds of concerns really matter for LGBTQ youth and allies. As our Out4STEM students begin to connect with professionals in their fields of interest, we will continue to have conversations about how to address these issues and build inclusive and affirming communities. Contact us to get involved with Out4STEM, our academic network for LGBTQ youth and allies.

Our next event on Thursday, April 24th at 5pm will be a celebration of Black Gay Pride with speakers Dr. David Malebranche and Dr. Avery Posey. Afterwards we will be holding a resume clinic, so bring your resume with you! And if you don’t have one, we’ll help you develop one. See you then!

Panel Pride

We absolutely love it when we get a chance to introduce our students to young professionals and graduate students.  The connection is immediate.  Our students see their future selves in the professionals and the professionals see their past selves seated before them. It’s a joy to watch.  To hear the questions, to see the smiles and enthusiasm on both sides. This Saturday’s healthcare professions panel at the College was a perfect example. Our speakers were diverse, down-to-earth, generous, willing to share, and beyond fabulous.  Our students were attentive, inquisitive, hopeful, interested, and excited.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon. Much thanks to all our panelists:



  • Susanne Johnson BSN, RN, Penn Medicine
  • La’Toya Latney, Penn School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Daritza Ballester, Second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student at Drexel University
  • Quincy Greene, Phlebotomist at Penn Medicine
  • Mark Guevera, Second-year Penn Dental student
  • Chris DeFrancesco, Second-year Penn Medical student



Much thanks to our students, as well.  Representatives from all three cohorts of our Karabots Junior Fellows attended, as well as students from our new Out4STEM program. You made us proud!

Education for All


The statistics don’t lie.  The rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young people in Philadelphia are SCARY.  There’s no other word for it. That’s why we brought in not one, but two speakers to talk to our students about STIs, safe sex, getting tested, and pretty much everything else we could think of.  In the picture above you can see our fabulous Museum Educator, Marcy, spreading the word about gonorrhea symptoms as part of our Hip2Know campaign.


Because we’re the Mütter Museum, we had to pass around a skull that’s been eaten away by tertiary syphilis.  Syphilis, you say? Why, that’s an old timey disease that Columbus and Napoleon had. No one gets that these days.  Wrong.  Seven percent of all cases of syphilis in Philadelphia are 15-19 year olds and the rates are climbing.


Not to be outdone, the good folks at CHOICE were here to tell us about the amazing services they provide.  Are you a young person with a sexual health question?  Call (215-985-3300) or text (Text “AskChoice” to 66746) their hotline.  After meeting James, we’re 100% confident they can help. In fact, James gave us the low down on lots of things we’d never even dreamed of.  Especially, the rumors that are swirling out there.  Blue waffle?  Fried rice?  We can’t comment.  Other than to say, education is education for everyone involved.

Healthcare Professional Panel for High School Students


The Center for Education and Public Initiatives presents a panel of healthcare students and professionals sharing their insights about training and working in healthcare careers. Students from our youth programs and their friends will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear firsthand stories of what it’s like to attend nursing/dental/medical school and what it’s like to work in particular healthcare fields such as dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, veterinary medicine and more. Students may bring friends who are interested in healthcare. This is a great opportunity to receive firsthand information about healthcare education and careers.

Saturday March 22, 2014
1pm – 4pm
RSVP* to this link
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (The Mütter Museum)
19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Beyoncé Lyrics and Bad News for Smokers


We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Dominique from Sayre Health Center and Temple University for coming in and talking to us. High school students face a lot of pressure and expectations when it comes to smoking, drugs, and alcohol. We all know that.  The important thing to keep in mind is who you are, what you want for yourself, and where you want to be now and in the future. A strong sense of self will guide you through the pressure.  Dominique reminded us to keep our focus strong.  We are so grateful!  We also learned that, when surveyed, non-smokers think smokers are “uglier” than the rest of us.  That’s rough.  Smoking is definitely not worth it.  Also, it turns out that our students are listening very closely to your lyrics, Beyoncé. Some of us suspect you might be drunk on more than love.  Until next time…