Anything Left-Handed > Blog Posts > Lefty info > Lefthanders occupations > Left-handedness and work choices

Left-handedness and work choices

We were asked recently whether there are any links between being left-handed and the job people do.  We did a survey on this a while back and also saw a recent article on it by Clare Porac (author of Laterality: Exploring the enigma of left-handedness).

The scientific rationale connecting handedness to career choice is rooted in the specialised abilities of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The right hemisphere controls the movements of the left hand. and also excels in the processing of non-verbal information such as mentally manipulating visual forms to solve a puzzle. If the thinking of left-handers is dominated by right hemisphere functions, then left-handers will gravitate toward occupations such as architecture and engineering that demand high levels of non-verbal skills.

The left hemisphere of the brain, which is specialized for language, controls the movements of the right hand. If right-handers excel at tasks using left hemisphere functions, they will be attracted to professions that emphasise verbal skills such as journalism and teaching.
In addition, there are physical factors that make it more difficult for left-handers to do certain types of work, from office and equipment layouts designed for right-handers to professions like surgery or dentistry where the training, equipment and practical issues strongly favour the right-handed majority.
In practice, it is never quite as simple as that but left-handers DO seem to gravitate to certain types of work and you can find out more using these links:

Analysis of our survey results on left-handed life choices

Clare Porac's article “Working Left (and Right)

What has your experience been? You can comment on this article below or comment on our Facebook post

Clare's book “Laterality” is available on Amazon UK here
(it is a bit pricey but should be available in most libraries)

and also on Amazon USA here

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10 comments on “Left-handedness and work choices
  1. ERIN A. WELCH says:


  2. Jenny H says:

    I have been fortunate to spend time with astronauts as a teacher and have had many discussions with them. I think Chris Hadfield went up on a mission they called the left handed mission. He says everyone on the flight was left handed but I think he was corrected that 4/6 were left handed. Not bad for a 1:10 population!
    So greater chance of being an astronaut.
    We also had 4/6 left handed maths teachers at school.
    Huge numbers of architects are left handed, I believe it is about 50%.

  3. tabby says:

    thought this was pretty silly but now i know why i always get lead on my hand while writing. thanks

  4. Rex Norman Douglas Pulker says:

    Having been in the sewing machine industry for over 46 years : and during that time as Australia’s Leading independent retailer; conducted thousands of demonstrations, lessons, services, sales and surveys on the domestic unit: We discovered the following !
    Because the machine was invented and Patented by a left hander (resulting in the working area being placed in front of the LEFT hand )Ergonomically, the configuration has always favoured the LEFT
    handed user. Consequently ; a very great number of Retailers, technicians, and demonstrators have been left handed. Of the 35,000
    clients/customers we have throughout the Metro area of Perth,
    an obviously unusual number of them are Left handed and a large number of those are commercial operators. If you visit you will hear from some of a sample of other professional groups around the world confirming this fact.
    Best wishes from a fellow “LEFTY”
    Rex Pulker

  5. Dr Robert Kidd says:

    A comment re: careers and handedness. A (now late) colleague, Professor Phillip Tobias, head of anatomy at The University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, used to walk up and down the rows and rows of desks at exam time, noting the handedness ratio. year in year out he reported the same(ish) ratio of 1:5 in med students and 1:14 in engineers

  6. in short:
    My family is lefthanded (wife and two sons)

    Vertaling (translate by a site from Dutch- English)

    Since many years I noticed that I very often in the hospitality industry is operated by lefthanders.
    Check with schools in the hotel industry also taught me that a the percentage of lefthanders > among the students is then 20%!.
    The kitchen staff in the hospitality industry also ranks higher than 15%.
    The reason: lefthanders surely fit in the educational systems.

    With regards!

    René van Oijen

  7. Keith says:

    I lived in Kalgoorlie , Western Australia for a while – I`d never encounter so many left-handed people in one place. I guess being a lefty means I notice other lefties! I was a heavy-plant mechanic in the Goldfields and I played squash and badminton etc in the local YMCA. In both work and play I encountered many more of the left-handed persuasion than any other place I have lived. So I guess the hypothesis regarding non-verbal skills including engineering may be on to something.

  8. Rod says:

    Many years ago I read (sorry, I can’t find the book) that yes, the two sides of the brain control the opposite side of the body, especially in terms of handedness but that in certain cases a possible indication of same side control was those people who wrote with a ‘hook’, this is most commonly observed in left-handers but I believe there are rare cases of right-handers using the hooked way of writing. It would be interesting if anybody else has heard of this theory, I accept it could be nonsense.

  9. Rod Murdison says:

    I know this isn’t any form of proof but when I studied for my B.A. and M.A. in linguistics it was noticeable that the classes were overwhelmingly female and of the male students, they were either left-handed (like me) or gay (or both). So perhaps there is a difference in language learning propensity in men (but not women) if they are left-handed or gay. I ‘think’ one of my linguistics lecturers said there was a theory put forward by American scientists Geschwind & Garabuda that supported this.

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