Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Behavioral Norms

LGBTQ_Symbols[Dr. Marina Gorsuch, Professor of St. Catherine University, recently wrote an article in the ILR Review entitled “Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Behavioral Norms in the Labor Market.” We are pleased to feature it and it will be free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Gorsuch discusses how she became inspired to conduct this type of research and provides advice for future researchers.]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

There are striking, persistent differences in earnings based on sex and sexual orientation. I first started this project after wondering if insight from psychology could help economists understand these earnings differences. In particular, I was intrigued by the research from social psychology testing more subtle forms of prejudice and stereotypes based on sex and sexual orientation. I drew on this interdisciplinary inspiration to develop an innovative laboratory experiment that tested how different types of prejudice and stereotypes impact labor market decisions.

Were there any surprising findings?

In this study, I asked participants to evaluate resumes that were manipulated on sex, perceived LGBT status, and whether the resume used traditionally masculine or feminine adjectives. My first set of results is not surprising – I find that male participants penalized resumes with an LGBT activity, and the LGBT penalty was slightly stronger effect for male resumes.

When testing more subtle forms of prejudice, I found some surprising results. Male participants evaluated non-LGBT women who used feminine adjectives more positively than when they used masculine adjectives. However, the resumes of women with the LGBT activity were immune to this effect. This suggests that perceived-heterosexual women are discouraged from masculine behavior that would be rewarded in the labor market, while perceived-LGBT women are not.

Additionally, the same men who had the strongest reaction to perceived-heterosexual women using masculine adjectives also had the strongest negative reaction to resumes with an LGBT activity. I used two different methods to estimate how many men in the study engaged in this form of discrimination. Both methods show that the majority of male participants were biased. This pattern of findings suggests that male decision makers are biased in ways that harm LGBT men, LGBT women, and heterosexual women in the labor market.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

I am a new scholar myself, so will simply repeat good advice I was given: be persistent. Papers and grants will be rejected – it doesn’t mean the paper or the project is bad. Don’t let a rejected paper sit in a drawer. Submit it somewhere else! Most papers you see published were rejected from multiple other journals.

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Gender Photo attributed to Free-Photos  (CC)

This entry was posted in Economics, Labor and tagged , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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