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Men and women who ‘sound’ gay viewed as less competent and less suitable for jobs, study finds

Patrick Kelleher February 7, 2020
Gay lesbian voice discrimination

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

Men and women who “sound” gay are viewed as less competent and less suitable for jobs, a recent study has found.

The study, which was published in Psychology of Women Quarterly in December 2019, found that gay men and lesbians face discrimination based on the sound of their voices.

Notably, researchers discovered that lesbians face even greater discrimination based on the sound of their voice than gay men, Psy Post reports.

People who ‘sound’ gay were judged to be less competent by participants.

For the study, 12 men and 18 women were recorded reading identical texts which took the form of a job application. Another group then listened to the recordings and identified two gay-sounding men, two lesbian-sounding women, as well as two straight-sounding men and two straight-sounding women.

340 heterosexual people were subsequently recruited to listen to the recordings and to evaluate each of the candidates. They were not told what the person’s sexual orientation was.

A stereotype about ‘gay voice’ exists and affects people’s impression and reactions.

The participants overwhelmingly marked the gay-sounding men and lesbian-sounding women as less competent than the heterosexual recordings. They also ranked them as less suitable for jobs and said they had less employability. This was particularly true for the lesbian-sounding women.

“A stereotype about ‘gay voice’ exists and affects people’s impression and reactions,” study author Fabio Fasoli told Psy Post.

The study suggests that LGBT+ people can face discrimination in the hiring process even when they do not explicitly state their identity.

“Voice can thus lead to subtle forms of discrimination in the hiring process,” he added.

“Although there is not a shared stereotype about the ‘lesbian voice’, women who sound ‘lesbian’ are at higher risk of discrimination.”

The study’s author also said that people make inferences about others based on their voices, which is what prompted them to undertake the study.

Writing in the study, the authors said: “Gaydar is usually defined as the ability to correctly guess who is gay and who is heterosexual from such minimal clues.

“As a consequence of gaydar, discrimination can occur when sexual orientation is inferred from a person’s behaviour during the hiring process,” the researchers wrote in their study.


More: Discrimination, Gay, lesbian, sounding gay, workplace discrimination

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