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Nondisclosure of queer identities linked with reduced scholarly publication rates

Researchers who did not disclose LGBTQIA identities in professional settings authored fewer peer-reviewed publications.

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As it is, “nondisclosure of queer identities in any context has been shown to be a source of stress and distraction for nondisclosing individuals, and nondisclosure in the workplace reduces job satisfaction, social integration with colleagues, and identification with employers.”

Now researchers reported that – particularly among LGBTQIA researchers – those who did not disclose LGBTQIA identities in professional settings authored fewer peer-reviewed publications.

The study – “Nondisclosure of queer identities is associated with reduced scholarly publication rates” by Joey Nelson, Allison Mattheis and Jeremy B. Yoder – appeared in PLoS ONE.

For this study, two surveys were done among LGBTQIA-identified scientists.

In the first study, the researchers found that:

  • Among 633 participants who were working at any stage of an academic career and who had authored at least one peer-reviewed publication, those who did not disclose their queer identities in professional settings also reported having authored significantly fewer peer-reviewed publication
  • Publication counts also differed by gender identities (that is, whether participants identified as men, women, or nonbinary or agender), such that the difference in publication counts between disclosing and nondisclosing participants was significant for queer men, but not for queer women or nonbinary participants
  • Publication counts were not significantly explained by participants’ ratings of their current workplaces as welcoming or unwelcoming to queer individuals
  • Participants in more senior positions were also more likely to disclose queer identities

In the second study, they found that:

  • Across all LGBTQIA participants, those who did not disclose their sexual orientation in professional settings reported fewer peer-reviewed papers compared to those who disclosed, or to straight participants
  • This broadly similar patterns were observed when considering disclosure of sexual orientation based on gender identities separately: among GBQA men, LGBQA nonbinary participants, and LGBQA women, those who did not disclose their sexual orientation had significantly fewer publications
  • Straight women, disclosing and nondisclosing queer women, nondisclosing men, and nondisclosing nonbinary participants all reported fewer publications than straight men

According to the researchers, “an association between publication count and disclosure could arise because disclosure facilitates productivity—if disclosure reduces job-related stress and increases workplace satisfaction. The same association could also arise because productivity facilitates disclosure—if more productive individuals feel more secure in taking the risks associated with disclosure.”

The researchers are suggesting the development of “a concrete need to improve scientific workplace climates for sexual and gender minorities.”

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