Education

SCIENCE: America’s College Faculties Are Crawling With Gay People

A recently published academic paper posits that gays and lesbians are overrepresented on college faculties — and in mortuaries, and in law offices — because gay people like to work alone but also possess high degrees of social acumen.

The paper, printed in Administrative Science Quarterly, is entitled “Concealable Stigma and Occupational Segregation: Toward a Theory of Gay and Lesbian Occupations.” The authors are Andras Tilcsik of the University of Toronto, Michel Anteby of Boston University and Carly R. Knight of Harvard University.

The goal of the paper is to explain why gay people appear to have a disproportionate presence in certain occupations, according to Inside Higher Ed.

The trio of professors behind the paper predicted that gay and lesbian workers value working by themselves because “they tend to see coworkers and supervisors as the most common source of potential mistreatment and discrimination in the workplace.”

The authors said survey data showed this theory to be accurate. They cited a pair of studies — one from 2014 and one from 2012 — showing that gay and lesbian survey respondents value the ability to “work independently” and to complete tasks without relying on help or input from others. Thus, gay people want to work alone.

The authors say they have also found that gay and lesbian workers are especially socially perceptive compared to heterosexual people. Gay people, the professors thus reasoned, seek out jobs such as being a professor in which they can interact with people.

It’s not clear if the three fancypants college professors realize that the two main components of their theory — wanting to “work independently” while simultaneously wanting to interact with people — are completely contradictory. But, never mind.

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The authors of the paper then used the U.S. Census Bureau’s comprehensive American Community Survey and the Occupational Information Network, a database of occupational definitions, to test their ideas, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Ultimately, they were able to tabulate data on 30,343 members of households led by same-sex couples.

A resulting list of occupations showed that both gay men and lesbian women are disproportionately employed in several jobs including college professor. Other jobs where gay people predominate, the professors suggest, are psychologist, massage therapist, mortician, lawyer, probation officer and web developer.

Lesbians are especially notable in sociology, the study also found.

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