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Study shows gay men and lesbians discriminated against on the sound of their voices

Study shows gay men and lesbians discriminated against on the sound of their voices

CREATED ON // Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A UK study has shown gay men and lesbians face discrimination in employment due to the sound of their voice.

The study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour carried out by researchers at the University of Surrey surveyed 276 heterosexual people.

The group were presented with voice samples of gay and heterosexual speakers and pictures, devoid of any background features and other characteristics.

Researchers said the participants were not informed of the sexual orientation of the people they listened to or saw pictures of.

The sample group were asked to form impressions about the gay applicants for the fake position of CEO and evaluate the employability of candidates by responding to five statements. They were also asked to report the amount of monthly salary they considered adequate. The process was then repeated with lesbian candidates.

The study found the heterosexual participants perceived men and women who they considered to be gay or lesbian, as inadequate for a leadership position.

For male candidates, auditory and not facial features impacted on whether they were deemed suitable for the role. Researchers discovered that having a heterosexual- rather than a ‘gay- sounding’ voice created the impression that the speaker had typically masculine traits, which in turn increased their perceived suitability for the role and the chance of receiving a higher salary.
Lesbian candidates were associated with a lack of femininity and identified as gender non-conforming and received less positive evaluation than heterosexual counterparts.

One for the researchers, Dr Fabio Fasoli said:

“These results demonstrate that the mere sound of a voice is sufficient to trigger stereotyping denying gay- and lesbian-sounding speakers the qualities that are considered typical of their gender.

“It is revealing, that despite all the work to lessen discrimination against the LGBT community, people subconsciously type cast an individual before getting to know them. This study highlights that it can be a real problem in the workplace and for people’s career prospects.”

The study also found that people thought gay men should be paid less than their heterosexual counterparts.


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