A new report has published quantitative evidence that fewer gay men are studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). This follows similar findings that these areas of study also have fewer women and racial minorities. However when reviewing the evidence for sexual minorities, in an interesting twist, while fewer gay men remain in these fields – women who identify as lesbian are actually more likely to persist in STEM than their heterosexual counterparts.
It is unclear why fewer gay men who initially decide to study science, technology, engineering or math are deciding to change their areas of study or quitting all together, but it is problematic because these areas typically provide good paying jobs and are skills that are highly marketable. The study speculates that difficulty in being accepted by colleagues may contribute to men dropping out but that doesn’t ring true to me. If acceptance was a barrier it wouldn’t make sense to me that lesbians are more likely to continue their studies than their heterosexual counterparts.
If you’d like to read more about the findings from the study you can read Kate Langin’s article, STEM is losing male LGBQ undergrads, and if you would like to see the research firsthand, you can read the abstract for Coming out in STEM: Factors affecting retention of sexual minority STEM students.