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Gay Glass Ceilings: Sexual Orientation and Workplace Authority in the UK

Author

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  • Aksoy, Cevat Giray

    () (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

  • Carpenter, Christopher S.

    () (Vanderbilt University)

  • Frank, Jeff

    () (University of London)

  • Huffman, Matt L.

    () (University of California, Irvine)

Abstract

A burgeoning literature has examined earnings inequalities associated with a minority sexual orientation, but far less is known about sexual orientation-based differences in access to workplace authority – in contrast to well-documented gender and race-specific differences. We provide the first large-scale evidence on this question using confidential data from the 2009-2014 UK Integrated Household Surveys (IHS) (N = 607,709). We are the first to document 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, we also find clear evidence that gay men face glass ceilings: their higher likelihood of attaining workplace authority is driven entirely by their significantly higher odds of being low-level managers. In fact, gay men are significantly less likely than comparable heterosexual men to be in the highest-level managerial positions that come with higher status and pay. Oaxaca decompositions suggest that this differential access to workplace authority for gay men is due to discrimination as opposed to different skills and characteristics. Moreover, this "gay glass ceiling" is stronger for racial minorities than for whites. Corresponding effects for lesbians exist but are notably weaker. These results provide the first direct evidence of social stratification in the workplace associated with a minority sexual orientation and reveal that differences are exacerbated for individuals with multiple marginalized identities.

Suggested Citation

  • Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Carpenter, Christopher S. & Frank, Jeff & Huffman, Matt L., 2018. "Gay Glass Ceilings: Sexual Orientation and Workplace Authority in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11574, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11574
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    Cited by:

    1. Brodeur, Abel & Haddad, Joanne, 2018. "Institutions, Attitudes and LGBT: Evidence from the Gold Rush," IZA Discussion Papers 11957, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Aksoy, Cevat Giray & Ozcan, Berkay & Philipp, Julia, 2020. "Robots and the Gender Pay Gap in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 13482, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Sansone, Dario, 2019. "Pink work: Same-sex marriage, employment and discrimination," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 180(C).
    4. Christopher Carpenter & Dario Sansone, 2020. "Cigarette Taxes and Smoking Among Sexual Minority Adults," NBER Working Papers 26692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Aksoy, Cevat G. & Carpenter, Christopher S. & De Haas, Ralph & Tran, Kevin D., 2020. "Do laws shape attitudes? Evidence from same-sex relationship recognition policies in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
    6. Ian Burn & Michael E. Martell, 2020. "Gender Typicality and Sexual Minority Labor Market Differentials," Working Papers 202018, University of Liverpool, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    managerial occupations; supervisory authority; workplace authority; sexual orientation;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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