Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Friday, February 21, 2014

Out Gay Faculty Less Comfortable Than Closeted Peers

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 03:46

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A study published in this month’s issue of the¬†Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering¬†highlights the effects of being out in the workplace on university Faculty. The study, authored by Patridge, Barthelemy, and Rankin (2014) showed that just 11% of gay and lesbian Faculty members are open and honest about their sexuality in the workplace and that those who are experience higher levels of stress compared to colleagues who remain closeted. The findings suggest a strong need for nondiscrimination policies in university-settings and creation of more welcoming work environments that embrace diversity among Faculty. The abstract for the study appears below:

There is limited information available regarding factors that contribute to the academic advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) communities. In this project, we employ data from the 2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People, and our aim was to assess the experiences of LGBQ faculty from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Survey responses from 279 LGBQ faculty members across multiple departments were analyzed through chi-square and binary logistic regression. Our findings from this national study identify several factors influencing the academic climate and subsequent career consequences of LGBQ faculty, and department-level analyses suggest these climate factors may be particularly relevant to the STEM fields. We propose that the comfort of LGBQ faculty members is a valuable measure for advancing the retention of LGBQ STEM faculty members, and we show that both exclusionary behavior and being “out” are factors that negatively impact this measure. We provide potential best practices to improve the academic climate for STEM faculty members, thereby advancing both their persistence and their influence on mentoring prospective LGBQ STEM students.

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