Measuring and Resolving LGBTQ Disparities in STEM

Jonathan B. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


LGBTQ people have pioneered major scientific advances, but they face challenges in STEM that ultimately waste human talent and hinder scientific progress. Growing evidence suggests that LGBTQ people in STEM are statistically underrepresented, encounter non-supportive environments, and leave STEM at an alarming rate. Potential factors driving LGBTQ disparities in STEM include bias and discrimination, misalignments of occupational interests with STEM stereotypes, and STEM norms of impersonality that isolate LGBTQ people. LGBTQ retention shares common psychological processes with female and racial minority retention such as STEM identification and belonging. The key barrier to better understanding and addressing LGBTQ challenges in STEM is the lack of sexual orientation or gender identity (SO/GI) demographic data on the U.S. STEM workforce. Policy recommendations include (a) adding SO/GI measures to federal STEM-census surveys; (b) broadening agencies’ definition of underrepresented groups to include LGBTQ people; and (c) incorporating LGBTQ identity into accountability systems and diversity programs at STEM institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • STEM
  • disparities
  • education
  • science
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration


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