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Study confirms existence of a ‘gay glass ceiling’

Gay men are less likely than otherwise similar heterosexual men to attain the highest-level managerial positions that come with increased status and pay.

We knew this all along?

Gay men are less likely than otherwise similar heterosexual men to attain the highest-level managerial positions that come with increased status and pay.

This is according to a study – “Gay Glass Ceilings: Sexual Orientation and Workplace Authority in the UK”  by Cevat Giray Aksoy (EBRD & IZA), Christopher Carpenter (Vanderbilt University & IZA), Jeff Frank (Royal Holloway) und Matthew Huffman (UC Irvine) – that provides the first large-scale systematic evidence on the relationship between a minority sexual orientation and workplace authority.

This study found that gay men and lesbians are significantly more likely to have objective measures of workplace authority compared to otherwise similar heterosexual men and women. However, there is strong evidence that there are glass ceilings: the managerial advantage experienced by gay men stems entirely from the fact that they are more likely than heterosexual men to be low-level managers. In other words, and as stated, “gay men are less likely than otherwise similar heterosexual men to attain the highest-level managerial positions that come with increased status and pay.”

The researchers similarly found that the majority of the difference is due to differential returns to observed characteristics and skills (such as education) as opposed to differential endowments. Meaning, the evidence is most consistent with discrimination explaining differential access to top managerial positions.

In a gist: The trend seems to be driven by discrimination, not different skills and characteristics, according to the researchers find.

And as if this isn’t bad enough, the researchers found that women and non-white men are further disadvantaged in attaining high-level managerial posts, thereby facing yet another glass ceiling.

Since access to managerial authority, and particularly high-level managerial posts, dictate who will be the next generation of senior leaders, the researchers argued that “bringing more sexual minorities, women and non-whites into managerial posts potentially increases the access for those further down the managerial/supervisory ladder – with similar characteristics – to be promoted. As with representation of women and minority groups on corporate boards, there is the potential to shift to a more representative outcome more broadly within the organization.”

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