NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Gay men, but not lesbians, face
discrimination at work, earning up to 23 percent less than
married men in some jobs, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire (UNH)
Whittemore School of Business and Economics spent two years
analyzing labor and wage data from 91,000 heterosexual and
homosexual couples collected by a 2004 U.S. census.
They found that gay men working in management and
blue-collar jobs make less money than straight men due to
discrimination by their employers
"It was surprising to see how consistent it was that gay
men tended to be more discriminated against in traditionally
heterosexual male dominated professions -- blue collar, labor,
and management too," researcher Bruce Elmslie, professor of
economics at UNH, told Reuters.
The study 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.
They looked at the top 10 occupations that gay men and
lesbians tend to be in and found this discrimination showed up
most clearly in management and blue-collar, male-dominated
occupations such as building and grounds cleaning, maintenance,
But Elmslie and co-author Edinaldo Tebaldi, who is now at
Bryant University in Rhode Island, found that lesbians are not
discriminated against when compared with heterosexual women.
He said although negative attitudes toward lesbians could
affect them, lesbians may actually 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 the study "Sexual Orientation and Labor Market
Discrimination," which appears in the Journal of Labor
Research, 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," said Elmslie.
The researchers cited a number of possible factors as to
why gay men faced labor discrimination and lower wages in some
These included employers disapproving of gay lifestyles so
not hiring gay men, concern that customers would not want to
interact with gay men, and discrimination associated with AIDS
and misunderstanding as to how HIV is transmitted or the loss
of productivity if a worker became infected with HIV/AIDS.
"If employers perceive one group to be generally less
productive or more costly than other groups, individual members
of the negatively perceived group will receive lower wage
offers regardless of their true characteristics," they said.