Magi Mike's Blog

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Employers Discriminate Against Gays Even More Than Against Socialists

with 3 comments

No discrimination

Employers in the South and Midwest were less likely to offer an interview when an applicant’s resumé indicates that he is openly gay. Gay applicants were 40 percent less likely to be granted an interview than their heterosexual counterparts. The technique used, audit study, has been used to expose hiring prejudice based on race and on sex, but this is the largest of its kind to look at job discrimination against gay men. András Tilcsik of Harvard University, the study’s author, writes:

Gay men encounter significant barriers in the hiring process because, at the initial point of contact, employers more readily disqualify openly gay applicants than equally qualified heterosexual applicants.

Tilcsik sent two fictitious but realistic resumés to more than 1,700 entry level, white collar job openings, managers, business and financial analysts, sales representatives, customer service representatives, and administrative assistants. The two resumés were the same but one for each opening said the applicant had been part of a gay organization in college. Tilcsik explained:

I chose an experience in a gay community organization that could not be easily dismissed as irrelevant to a job application. Thus, instead of being just a member of a gay or lesbian campus organization, the applicant served as the elected treasurer for several semesters, managing the organization’s financial operations.

The second resumé Tilcsik sent listed experience in the “Progressive and Socialist Alliance” in place of the gay organization. Since employers are likely to associate both groups with left-leaning political views, Tilcsik could separate any “gay penalty” from the effects of political discrimination. It would have been better to have had a control group too, with no such adverse identification.

Applicants without the gay signal had an 11.5 percent chance of being called for an interview, but gay applicants had only a 7.2 percent chance, a 40 percent lower chance than the heterosexual applicant.

The gap varied according to the location of the job. The widest gaps were in the South and Midwest—states like Texas, Florida, and Ohio. The West and Northeast—states like California, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York, had only small, statistically insignificant gaps. Tilcsik observed:

It’s plausible that, even in those states, there is a large callback gap in some other jobs, industries, or counties. What this shows is that discrimination in white collar employment is higher in the Southern and Midwestern states.

Gay applicants had even lower callback rates when the employer described the ideal candidate for the job as “assertive”, “aggressive”, or “decisive”.

Written by mikemagee

4 October, 2011 at 6:58 pm

3 Responses

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  1. It would be interesting to learn which jobs were applied to. I can imagine that by selectively choosing which jobs to send the resumes to you could almost guarantee the results that support the hypothesis you are trying to prove.


    5 October, 2011 at 3:30 am

    • The positions mentioned were jobs such as managers, business and financial analysts, sales representatives, customer service representatives, and administrative assistants. More statistics and confidence limits would have helped but the press summary I had did not give many details. They might be in the original paper, which is:
      Andras Tilcsik, “Pride and Prejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay Men in the United States”. American Journal of Sociology 117:2 (September 2011)

      Mike Magee

      5 October, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      • Interesting… Thanks M.


        6 October, 2011 at 2:57 am

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