In a new study, a researcher has found that employers tend to discriminate against female applicants who are lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; applicants who the researcher categorized as “queer.” To conduct the study, the researcher created fictitious resumes that were identical in every respect except some indicated that the applicant served in a leadership position in a LGBT student organization. The leadership role in such organizations was meant to imply that the applicant was “queer.” The researcher sent the resumes to employers seeking administrative, clerical, and secretarial positions in Virginia, Tennessee, the District of Columbia, and New York. She found that employers responded more significantly favorably to the fictitious resumes of women who did not serve in leadership positions with LGBT student organizations than the women who did, i.e., that the employers discriminated against the “queer” applicants.
The researcher’s decision to test hiring for administrative, clerical, and secretarial positions is interesting. Employers looking to fill these positions typically do not discriminate against female applicants because women have traditionally held these positions at greater rates than men. So, sex discrimination was less likely to play a role in the employers’ decisionmaking. Furthermore, stereotypical views of lesbians and bisexual women often include the belief that they are more “masculine” than straight women. Thus, the fictitious “queer” applicants might have been favored over non-queer applicants if the researcher had used a field of work more traditionally dominated by men in her study, such as construction.
This study is another piece of evidence which shows that if you are a “queer” woman, you are more likely to face discrimination when you apply for jobs typically held by women. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, that is illegal and you should contact an experienced employment lawyer, like the lawyers at the Maine Employee Rights Group, to learn more about your rights.