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Canada study confirms that gay men earn less than straight men

Canada study confirms that gay men earn less than straight men

A man with a laptop with a rainbow sticker

Another study has revealed significant salary differences between gay people and straight people.

In April, we reported on an Australian study that had concluded that lesbians earned up to 33% more than straight women but that gay men faced workplace drawbacks.

Last year, a study commissioned by the World Bank found that lesbians earned around 20% more than straight women and gay men earned 16% less then straight men.

A study from Canada – a country that records sexual orientation and relationship status on its national census – has now found similar findings for that territory.

Published in Gender and Science the study, by researchers at McGill University in Montreal, looked at salaries among men and women in Canada. It drew its data from the country’s 2006 census.

To ensure that the study – entitled Gay Pay for Straight Work – looked specifically at differences in pay relating to sexuality, the researchers only included white people in their study, pointing out that ethnicity can have a strong affect on earning power. To include LGBT people from all ethnic backgrounds would have complicated the findings.

The Atlantic summarized the study’s findings: Gay men with partners earned 5% less than straight men with partners; coupled lesbians earn 8% more than straight women with partners.

On average, straight men earn the most, followed by gay men, lesbians, and then straight women.

These pay discrepancies were greatest in high-earning private companies, and lower in the public sector.

The study offered several reasons for the differences, such as the fact that heterosexual women are often likely to experience a career penalty for taking parental leave that many lesbians do not if they choose not to pursue motherhood.

‘Employers may perceive lesbians as more committed to their job, and more closely aligned to the ideal male employee, because they (often) don’t have children,’ said the study’s co-author, Sean Waite, to the Toronto Sun. ‘They’re not burdened with child-care responsibilities.’

Also, there is evidence that gay people tend to be more likely to do jobs that are not gender-stereotypical: gay men are less likely to be found in STEM positions, while lesbians may be less likely to work in retail.

They also concluded that both conscious and unconscious bias could have an impact on earning power.

‘One of the arguments that we put forward is that the remuneration practices in some of the most highly paid occupations…are more dependent on merit and performance pay,’ said Waite to The Atlantic.

‘These types of remuneration may allow for more arbitrary evaluation, from both bosses or coworkers, of an employee’s worth. In other words, there may be more avenues for conscious or unconscious bias.’