Study ‘proves’ stereotypes about gay flight attendants and lesbian truck drivers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A study has found there’s some truth in old stereotypes: male flight attendants really are more likely to be gay, and female truck drivers are more likely to be lesbians.

Researchers at the London School of Economics launched the analysis, investigating the “unusually high concentration” of gay or lesbian workers in certain jobs.

The academics analysed data from two large-scale employment surveys which monitored over five million people across the US.

The study found that some popular stereotypes – like the gay flight attendants once parodied by the band Scooch – actually hold up in real life.

The study found that among male workers in female-majority occupations, gay men were prevalent in hairdressing, nursing and travel – while lesbians were over-represented among women in male-dominated fields such as plumbing, heating, maintenance work and trucking.

Looking at fields dominated by men, gay men are more likely to be actors, news reporters (tick!) or artists – while in female-dominated fields, lesbians are more likely to work in sociology, social care, or psychology.

Both gay men and lesbians are well-represented overall in psychology, law, social work, and university teaching.

The study continues: “Our findings suggest that gay and lesbian workers might be drawn to a different set of occupations than heterosexual workers and perhaps bring with them a distinct set of skills to these occupations.
Study ‘proves’ stereotypes about gay flight attendants and lesbian truck drivers

“Gay and lesbian workers probably developed some of these skills as a result of social adaptation to discrimination.

“As societies become more tolerant of same-sex relationships, however, the need to conceal one’s sexual orientation in everyday social interactions might fade over time.

“As a result, gay men and lesbians may loose their skill for social perceptiveness, which may make them less distinct in the labour market.

“But we expect that the patterns we observed will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“Occupational patterns are usually slow to change because they continue to reflect earlier educational and career choices and because the gay- or lesbian-friendly reputation of an occupation can persist for a long time and continue to draw gay and lesbian workers.”

In other words: whatever industry you’re working in… keep flying the flag.