Gay engineers still fear coming out

Almost half of gay and lesbian engineers hide their sexuality at work, according to a survey for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)'s E&T magazine.

The survey shows that 41.8 per cent are not open about their sexuality at work, compared to 45 per cent who say they are.

Some felt that senior management would not approve of their sexuality, and others feared a backlash from their colleagues.

Others said that their sexuality was irrelevant to their job, and that they chose not to come out at work so as not to make their colleagues feel uncomfortable.

Only 7.7 per cent of engineers had experienced homophobia at work, but the magazine points out that these were people who were not out at work.

Given the global nature of the engineering industry, many engineers chose to keep their sexuality secret as being open might prevent them working in countries in Africa and the Middle East with homophobic laws.

One respondent said: "My company has a lot of overseas opportunities; some of these are in countries where I wouldn't be comfortable being a gay person. This barrier to taking opportunities could potentially hinder my career progression."

Dickon Ross, E&T editor-in-Chief, said: "The LGBT survey, which was run through E&T magazine, is an example of our commitment to promoting diversity within engineering. If we can understand to what if any extent discrimination on the grounds of sexuality takes place in the engineering community, we will be in a stronger position to address any issues."

The survey results are revealed in the August 2014 edition of E&T magazine, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.