Gay men face more workplace bias than straights, lesbians

Posted on 25 Jan 2007 at 5:43pm
By Associated Press

Study by N.H. researchers says discrimination is more pronounced against gay men in blue-collar, male-dominated occupations

DURHAM, N.H. Employers discriminate more against gay men in many jobs than against gay women in the workplace, according to new research.

University of New Hampshire researchers found that gay men who live together earn 23 percent less than married men, and 9 percent less than unmarried heterosexual men who live with a woman. Discrimination is most pronounced in management and blue-collar, male-dominated occupations such as building, grounds cleaning and maintenance, construction and production, according to the study by UNH’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

Lesbians, however, do not experience similar discrimination in the labor market, according to Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics, and Edinaldo Tebaldi, a former assistant professor of economics now at Bryant University. Their research appears in the Journal of Labor Research in the article “Sexual Orientation and Labor Market Discrimination.”

The authors also found that lesbians are not discriminated against when compared with heterosexual women. They conclude that while negative attitudes toward lesbians could affect them, lesbians may benefit from the perception that they are more career-focused and less likely to leave the labor market to raise children.

According to the study, 18.1 percent of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4 percent of straight women.
“Employers could reasonably infer that a lesbian applicant or current employee will have a stronger attachment to the labor force than will a heterosexual woman,” the authors said.

The authors note that previous studies of attitudes of heterosexual men toward gay men and lesbians shows that the bias against gay men is much stronger.

“Employers may disapprove of gay lifestyles and act on this bias in making hiring decisions,” the authors said. Employers also may discriminate against gay men in response to the desires of other employees. If employers consider mixing heterosexual and homosexual employees distracting and detrimental to productivity, the authors said the employers may consider it profitable to discriminate.

Gay men also may be discriminated against because customers may not want to interact with them, thus influencing hiring practices. “If customers prefer to interact with heterosexual employees, the owner will act on the customer’s taste for discrimination,” the authors said.
ers may be reluctant to hire gay men because they are concerned about a loss of productivity if a worker becomes infected with HIV/AIDS.

The authors analyzed U.S. Census labor and wage information from more than 91,000 heterosexual and homosexual couples in March 2004.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 26, 2007.

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