New Study Reveals That Gay Men Lag in Degrees in Scientific, Math & Engineering Fields

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday November 20, 2020

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Not every gay man is Alan Turing.

A new study says that gay men are "less likely" than straight males are to obtain a degree in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, reports UK newspaper The Guardian.

The study, titled "Turing's children: Representation of sexual minorities in STEM," was undertaken by Dario Sansone and Christopher S. Carpenter. The study was published in the journal Plos One on Nov. 18.

The study's abstract reports that the researchers, who are associated with The University of Exeter in the UK and Vanderbilt University in the U.S., respectively, found that "men in same-sex couples are 12 percentage points less likely to have completed a bachelor's degree in a STEM field compared to men in different-sex couples.

"On the other hand, there is no gap observed for women in same-sex couples compared to women in different-sex couples."

The researchers also "document that gay male representation in STEM fields... is systematically and positively associated with female representation in those same STEM fields."

Sansone, who is with the University of Exeter's Business School, told the media that "These patterns are highly suggestive that the mechanisms underlying the very large gender gap in Stem fields such as heteropatriarchy, implicit and explicit bias, sexual harassment, unequal access to funding and fewer speaking invitations are related to the factors driving the gap in Stem fields between gay men and heterosexual men."

The results echo those reported by Bryce E. Hughes, et al., in "Coming out in STEM: Factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students," a 2018 study that surveyed more than 4,100 college seniors across 78 schools in the U.S.

Science reported that the 2018 study found that while all of the students in the study "had declared an intention to major in STEM 4 years earlier," by the time the students neared graduation "heterosexual men were 17% more likely to stay in STEM than their LGBQ male counterparts.

"The reverse was true for women," that study noted; "LGBQ women were 18% more likely than heterosexual women to stay in STEM."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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