During the past few decades, gay men and lesbian women have been fighting to secure equal rights and opportunities for themselves and their families. Although the recent court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage was a monumental step towards ultimately reaching this goal, there still remains much inequality in the workplace for gay men and lesbian women. Many LGBT individuals in the U.S. still refrain from disclosing or discussing their sexual orientation to their employers for fear of job discrimination. However, a recent study in the Journal of Business and Psychology suggests the opposite may occur: gay men and lesbian women are more likely to be hired by a company if the boss of that company is female1!
In this study, psychologists recruited male and female subjects to evaluate various job applicants for a vacant “Office Manager” position. The subjects were shown a resume that either belonged to a (1) straight female, (2) straight male, (3) gay male, or (4) lesbian female. The psychologists cleverly manipulated the sexual orientation of the applicants by adding that the gay male and lesbian female job candidates were part of LGBT business organizations in the local area. What did they find? The results revealed that straight women thought the gay male and lesbian female job applicants were more hirable overall!
In their second study, the psychologists wanted to explain “why” gay men and lesbian women were more hirable to straight women. The psychologists conducted a study similar to their first, but this time they asked participants how “competent” and “warm” that they thought each applicant was. The findings revealed that women wanted to hire a gay man and lesbian woman because they perceived them to be more competent. However, the gay male applicant was perceived to be more “warm” than the straight female, straight male, or even the lesbian female job applicants.
Taken together, this research implies that women’s warm and trusting perceptions of gay individuals may translate to increased job opportunities for gay men and lesbian women in the workplace.
1 Everly, B. A., Unzueta, M. M., & Shih, M. J. (2015). Can being gay provide a boost in the hiring process? Maybe if the boss is female. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30, 1-14.