Biology + gender & sexuality studies

TEACHING – Prof. Warkentin is a Core Faculty member of BU’s Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS), serving as the natural scientist in WS101 “Gender & Sexuality I: An Interdisciplinary Introduction” – a teaching collaboration with humanists and social scientists that brings the biology of diversity and plasticity into interdisciplinary conversation with material from other fields (WS101–Fall 2019 Syllabus)(WS101-Fall2020-Syllabus). BI582, a 2-credit seminar on “Sex, Sexes, and Sexual Phenotypes,” brought gender & sexuality studies perspectives to biology students through an examination of biological research (BI582–Spring 2018 Syllabus). A 4-credit version of this material was first taught in Spring 2020 as BI594 (BI594-Sex&Sexes–Advertisement)(BI594-Sex,Sexes,SexualPhenotypes-Spring2020-SyllabusWithReadings).

For colleagues elsewhere: If these syllabi/resources inspire or help you in your own teaching, please let me know.


“Crossing boundaries, disrupting binaries: A queer perspective on studying behavioral diversity” – Plenary for the Animal Behaviour Society online meeting, Aug. 2021 – References cited available here (with links to papers). Video available on the ABS YouTube channel. Updated for June 2022 Plenary for Fellows Symposium at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – Updated references.

“Different people ask different questions: A queer perspective on studying diversity in life history and behavior” – University of Toronto, Nov. 2019; Brown University, Dec. 2019; Rutgers University, Jan 2021; Purdue University, Feb 2021.

“All the variations matter: Bridging disciplines and communities to study diversity in life history and sexual behavior”  – Opening Plenary for the Ecological Society of America meeting, Louisville KY, Aug. 2019 – Video available here.

“Queering herpetology: On human perspectives and the study of diverse animals” – Plenary for the Brazilian Congress of Herpetology, Campinas, SP, Brazil, July 2019 – Video available here. Book chapter based on the talk (pdf) here.

“Diversity and plasticity of life: A biologist’s journey from embryo self-defense to sexual behavior” – Boston University Lecture, Nov. 2018 – Video available here.

“From field observations of Agalychnis eggs to integrative and comparative biology of environmentally cued hatching: Herpetological research and gender studies insights” – Latin American Herpetology Congress, Quito, Ecuador, July 2017, in symposium on Women Herpetologists in Latin America.

“Development, evolution, and the diversity of non-reproductive sexual behavior: An introduction” – Center for Philosophy and History of Science colloquium on Diversity, Plasticity, and the Science of Sexuality, April 2015 Video available here.


Prof. Warkentin served as co-chair of the 2018–2019 LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Task Force, charged with gathering information and developing recommendations for how BU can become more inclusive of gender & sexual minority faculty and staff. The Task Force submitted our Final Report in May 2019. The Provost’s response in October 2019 describes the next steps BU will take to become a more inclusive institution. Warkentin’s further work as co-Initiative Owner for the LGBTQIA+ Center for Faculty and Staff in BU’s Strategic Implementation Group (2020) led to the opening of the Center.

“Is science too straight? LGBTQ+ issues in STEM diversity” – article in BU’s research magazine The Brink, includes interviews with Prof. Warkentin and Prof. Chris Schmitt, a BU primatologist.


500 Queer Scientists – A visibility campaign for LGBTQ+ people and allies in STEM

oSTEM – A national society dedicated to educating and fostering leadership for LGBTQA communities in STEM fields

Project Biodiversify – Tools for promoting diversity and inclusion in biology courses

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – Information about laws relevant to sexuality and gender minorities around the world

The Intersex Roadshow and TransFusion – Blogs by intersex, trans sociologist Dr. Cary Gabrielle Costello

Human Rights Campaign – Information on state and municipal laws affecting LGBTQIA+ people, with state-specific information and Municipal Equality Index

NeuroGenderings – an international and transdisciplinary network developing innovative theoretical and empirical approaches for questions of sex/gender and sexuality for neuroscientists

The Queer Dictionary – demystifying the language of LGBT+ culture

SICB Pride – more resource links from the Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology, from a list curated by Sam Sharpe and presented at SICB 2021


BOOKS on same-sex sexual behavior in animals

Bagemihl B (1999) Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. St. Martin’s Press, New York – A groundbreaking compendium of information on homosexual behavior in about 450 animal species. (I’d skip the “exuberance” section and use the compendium as a starting point to delve into the primary literature.)

Sommer V, Vasey PL (eds) (2006) Homosexual Behavior in Animals: An Evolutionary Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge – Examines evolutionary biology of normal, frequent homosexual behavior in 14 species, including humans.

Poiani A (2010) Animal Homosexuality: A Biosocial Perspective. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge – Addresses proximate and ultimate causes of homosexual behavior & orientation in humans, other mammals & birds.

… on primate sexuality

Dixson AF (2012) Primate Sexuality: Comparative Studies of the Prosimians, Monkeys, Apes, and Humans. Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford – Addresses many aspects of sexuality including same-sex sexual behavior across primates.

… on human evolution and reproductive biology

Hrdy SB (2009) Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding. Belknap, Cambridge, MA – How the evolution cooperative breeding created a new developmental and selective environment that fundamentally changed the human species.

Papers on the value of human diversity for science

Adams J (2013) The fourth age of research. Nature 497: 557-560 (The best science comes from international collaborations)

AlShebli BK, Rahwan T, Woon WL (2018) The preeminence of ethnic diversity in scientific collaboration. Nat Comm 9, 5163

Campbell LG, Mehtani S, Dozier ME, Rinehart J (2013) Gender-heterogeneous working groups produce higher quality science. PLoS ONE 8, e79147

Franzoni C, Scellato G, Stephan P (2014) The mover’s advantage: the superior performance of migrant scientists. Econ Lett 122: 89-93

Freeman RB, Huang W (2015) Collaborating with people like me: ethnic coauthorship within the United States. Journal of Labor Economics 33: S289-S318

Galinsky AD, Todd AR, Homan AC, Phillips KW, Apfelbaum EP, Sasaki SJ, Richeson JA, Olayon JB, Maddux WW (2015) Maximizing the gains and minimizing the pains of diversity: a policy perspective. Persp Psychol Sci 10: 742-748

Hofstra B, Kulkarni VV, Galvez SM-N, He B, Jurafsky D, McFarland DA (2020) The diversity–innovation paradox in science. PNAS USA 117:

Nielsen MW, Alegria S, Borjeson L, Etzkowitz H, Falk-Krzesinski HJ, Joshi A, Leahey E, Smith-Doerr L, Woolley AW, Schiebinger L (2017) Gender diversity leads to better science. PNAS USA 114: 1740-1742

Papers on LGBTQ experiences in STEM

Cech EA, Pham MV (2015) LGBT professionals’ workplace experiences in STEM-related federal agencies. Paper 12513, Am Soc Eng Ed meeting, Seattle, WA

Cech EA, Pham MV (2017) Queer in STEM organizations: workplace disadvantages for LBGT employees in STEM related federal agencies. Soc Sci 6: 12-34

Cech EA, Rothwell WR (2018) LGBTQ inequality in engineering education. J Eng Ed 107: 583-610

Cech EA, Waidzunas TJ (2021) Systemic inequalities for LGBTQ professionals in STEM. Sci Adv 7: eabe0933

Freeman J (2018) LGBTQ scientists are still left out. Nature 559: 27-28

Hughes BE (2018) Coming out in STEM: factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students. Sci Adv 4: eaao6373