Gay Men Get Most Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in US, Study Finds | News | Notre-Dame news
Recent news about the dramatic shift in college attendance by women overtaking men – now a 60/40 ratio – overlooks one of the top performing groups of all: gay men. In addition, the educational level of lesbians is not taken into account in the new figures. A new study from a University of Notre Dame researcher reveals how, without including sexuality, general statements about gender and education are incomplete and misleading.
“Through the analyzes, I reveal two demographic facts,” said Joel Mittleman, assistant professor of sociology at Notre Dame, whose study is forthcoming in the American Sociological Review. âFirst, the growing educational benefits of women are largely limited to heterosexual women. Although lesbian women have historically overtaken heterosexual women, in contemporary cohorts lesbian and bisexual women face significant educational disadvantages. Second, the well-documented underachievement of boys masks a group with remarkably high levels of academic achievement: gay boys.
For many years, LGBTQ Americans have been mostly invisible in the data used by social scientists to study patterns of academic achievement and academic achievement at the population level. Under the Obama administration, however, officials added a question on sexual orientation to three of the federal government’s largest household surveys: the National Health Interview Survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the National Crime. Victimization Survey. At the same time, the US Department of Education added its very first question on sexual orientation to the 2009 High School Longitudinal Study. Using all this new data, Mittleman analyzed how sexuality shapes people. school performance with unprecedented detail.
Mittleman found that the academic achievement of gay men does not only subtly eclipse that of straight men. In the United States, about 52% of gay people have a bachelor’s degree, while the national total number for all adults in the United States is 36%. Six percent of gay men in the United States have a graduate degree (JD, MD, or Ph.D.), which is about 50 percent higher than that of straight men. This is true for gay men in the four largest racial / ethnic groups (white, black, Hispanic and Asian).
“If gay American men were considered lonely, they would have, by far, the highest college completion rate in the world: easily surpassing the current leader, Luxembourg, at 46.6%,” Mittleman wrote.
With such clear academic pros and cons now highlighted by his study, Mittleman also sought to understand why some groups excel over others. His research aligns with what professors Mark Hatzenbuehler and John Pachankis (Harvard and Yale respectively) have called the âworld’s best boyâ hypothesis. Inspired by Andrew Tobias memoir, âThe Best Little Boy in the World,â this hypothesis proposes that gay men respond to societal homophobia by overcompensating in areas related to success.
Reflecting on this possibility, Mittleman suggests that âacademic performance offers an accessible domain of competitive self-control. While the rules of masculinity may seem obscure or unapproachable, school rules may seem low key and manageable. While a parent’s approval can be uncertain, a teacher’s praise can be earned regularly with the right amount of effort. And when other paths to “being a man” are cut off, pursuing the kinds of prestigious careers made possible by meticulously high achievement offers a way to solidify one’s position as a man. “
Unlike gay boys, contemporary lesbian girls face a number of educational disadvantages. For example, Mittleman’s data indicates that, compared to heterosexual girls, lesbians are twice as likely to report dropping out of high school. These glaring disadvantages, he suggests, may reflect discriminatory treatment by teachers.
Mittleman’s research underscores the importance of fully recognizing LGBTQ Americans in population surveys, and he notes that further study of LGBTQ students is needed “because gender and sexuality are deeply interconnected and sexuality shapes the meaning and consequences of gender throughout our lives â.