Are gay men discriminated against by employers? Yes, according to a new study which appears in the Journal of Labor Research.
The study, co-authored by Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics at UNH Whittemore and Edinaldo Tebaldi of Bryant University in Rhode Island, contains an in-depth analysis of wage and labor data collected by the U.S. Census in March 2004. The dataset represents over 91,000 heterosexual and homosexual couples.
According to the authors, 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 and grounds cleaning and maintenance; construction and extraction; and production.
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 than heterosexual women. According to their study, 18.1 percent of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4 percent of straight women.
Within the study, the authors suggest that employer disapproval of the gay lifestyle, fears about offending customers and concerning the transmission of HIV/AIDS may be affecting hiring and salary decisions. While these are certainly plausible theories, the data they examined does not truly provide any information regarding these potential causes, and more research is needed to justify their assertions.
I believe this study raises more questions than it answers, but the data revealed remains of interest, regardless of the whys.
I’ve long been disturbed that even in 2007, salary and position inequalities still exist between men and women, but until now, I hadn’t realized that homosexual men were affected as well. Gay couples already face unique retirement challenges, and compensation inequities only exacerbate the issue.
Gay men can earn 23 pct less than married men: study [Reuters UK]
New Research Finds Gay Men, But Not Lesbians, Are Discriminated Against in Some Jobs [UNH Media Relations]
Published or updated November 9, 2007.