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Survey of STEM Representation

Men in same-sex relationships are 12 percent less likely to have a college degree in a STEM field, according to a new survey appearing in PLOS One.

The survey draws on data from the 2009 through 2018 American Community Surveys, which included 142,641 men and women in same-sex couples, and was complemented by data from the 2013 through 2018 National Health Interview Surveys.

While the University of Exeter's Dario Sansone and the Vanderbilt University's Christopher Carpenter note in their paper that women overall are underrepresented among STEM bachelor's degree holders, there is no difference between women in same-sex couples and women in different-sex couples. Among men, however, the researchers found that those in same-sex relationships were 12 percent less likely to have a STEM bachelor's degree than those in different-sex relationships.

Why this occurs is not yet fully clear, Carpenter tells The Scientist. He adds that they noted there was a systematic, positively association between gay male and female representation in STEM fields.

"That tells us ... there is something fundamental underlying these two gaps that is related," he adds. "It is a road too far for us to conclude that the things that would alleviate the gender gap would also alleviate the gay male STEM gap, but our results are at least consistent with the possibility that that may be true."