Women whose resumes suggest that they may be lesbian, bisexual or transgender are less likely to receive a call back for a job interview, according to a study published in a sociology journal, Socius.
The study by researcher Emma Mishel, who is currently a PhD student in sociology at New York University, conducted a field experiment by sending out a pair of fictitious women’s resumes to more than 800 administrative jobs from online job databases advertised by employers across four states (Virginia, Tennessee, New York, and Washington, DC) in the United States.
One woman’s resume was randomly assigned leadership experience at a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student organization to signal queer identity, while the other resume, a control, was assigned experience at another progressive student organization. Both sets of resumes show that the applicants have high grade point averages, studied abroad, several years of work experience, and have similar qualifications and credentials.
Titled Discrimination Against Queer Women in the U.S. Workforce: A Resume Audit Study, the study showed that the women with the ‘LGBT indicator’ were discriminated against compared with the other women, receiving about 30 percent fewer callbacks.
Mishel was quoted by Fusion as saying that she was inspired to conduct the study as it was an issue she has personally faced being a queer person and a LGBT advocate.
‘When you look at my work history it’s a lot of LGBT organizations, so it’s pretty obvious that I’m queer. And so I’ve always wondered if that is an issue when I apply to certain jobs.’
The study noted that while other studies have shown that while lesbian women may be favored in the labor market because of perceived stronger commitment and drive for their careers than heterosexual women, there is little research studying hiring discrimination using queer female candidates to assess whether they are penalized when they apply to jobs compared with straight women of equal qualifications.
The researcher said the study was not able to understand or measure the mechanism underlying this discrimination although some research has shown that hiring managers are ‘likely to hire someone with a perceived similarity to themselves.’
‘In other words, they are likely to hire someone they like, which is, in turn, someone who looks like them on paper.’
However Mishel says that the odds of getting an LGBT hiring manager to review a resume are very low as ‘only 3.5 percent of the population identify as LGBT (or even if we estimated the percentage as several times this).’
Despite diversity policies being introduced in more workplaces, studies continue to show that discrimination of gay and lesbian job seekers is commonplace within both private firms and the public sector in the UK and US.