The Truth About Gay and Lesbian Income

Joe Clark, who has previously written about women’s hockey, took a look at the myths surrounding gay and lesbian income statistics. Interestingly, Clark found that “[g]ay males earn less than straight males, often much less. Meanwhile, lesbians earn more than straight females.” Clark attributes the difference to professional choices, not discrimination: “Gay males have more education than straight males, but they do not choose male-dominated professions as often as straight males do. In fact, they choose female-dominated and/or service professions much more often.” Gay males also work fewer hours than straight males. Lesbian women, by contrast, work more hours than straight females and are “overrepresented in male-dominated professions that pay better than female-dominated professions.” [%comments]


Jill

This research seems to also assume that the reason women earn less than men are their chosen profession and hours, which to say the least cannot be taken seriously. It tells part of the story but a more detailed research can see more patterns. Perhaps gay males are treated more similar to women, and hence are paid less? An interesting conversation on how accepting is liberal society of gays really?:
http://www.thinqon.com/topic/how_accepting_is_liberal

GiorgioNYC

Thanks, Times. Now when money's tight I'll just hit up my lesbian friends.

Meg

But who makes more: gay males or gay females?

nottom

It seems like this is pretty good evidence that much of the "gender gap" is by choice and not the result of discrimination.

Kim

Perhaps the reason "male-dominated" fields have higher salaries is because we accept the pay gap between teachers, nurses and other "female-dominated" fields and banking, engineering and the like. Perhaps if more men were Kindergarten teachers, we'd start paying them more.

Jen

My female partner works as an estimator in a construction company. Yeah, not many women become estimators. There are plenty of women in her office, but they are in sales or secretarial work. My partner went into estimating because she's good at math, and... well, why not? She works fairly regular hours for a good salary. The straight women who work in the office could have gone to the same college my partner went to and applied to the same jobs. I don't know why they didn't. I'm not even sure that they are unhappy in the jobs they did chose even though they pay a lot less.
My guess? Lesbian women go into higher paying professions for the same reason that a lot of us can fix our own computers, change our own tires, and mow the lawn. Men don't look after us. We learn to do all of the things men would usually do. That isn't to say I'm not happy to have a nice guy friend carry something really heavy up the stairs for me. But it is to say, generally speaking, we do a lot of things straight women don't learn to do. Some of those things happen to pay well, so why not take a better job? Also, most of the secretaries in my partner's office have husbands who make more money than they do... maybe they don't feel as much pressure to work longer and harder for more.

Read more...

AaronS

When you boil it down, aren't we just saying that "girls" make less than "guys"--whether you are one or the other because of plumbing or orientation?

While I find it absolutely wrong to pay a woman less for doing the same job as a man, in SOME cases it seems that women gravitate (or perhaps have no other choice) to jobs that are not treasured as much by the masses.

Indeed, we all understand that nurses and teachers are VITAL...and yet for whatever reason, we pay a basketball star enough to pay a hundred nurses.

The fault is not necessarily in the chosen industry, but in societies poor prioritization of the things that really matter. Very simply, we take our money and our leisure very seriously--so we pay bankers and rock/movie/sports stars massive amounts.

I wonder what would happen to our society if, while continuing to respect that significant talents of our stars, we rebalanced things so that we could attract the VERY BEST teachers in the world to our classrooms? We could then draw from a rich pool of talent, rather than have to do with anything less than the best.

Read more...

charles

Um, Kim & Jill - you've heard of confirmation bias? Lets get back to good old supply and demand. There is no big giant head organizing a conspiracy to pay women less. You're chasing shadows.

Bill

So, aren't you really saying that sexual orientation is a choice?

Ken Arromdee

''Indeed, we all understand that nurses and teachers are VITAL...and yet for whatever reason, we pay a basketball star enough to pay a hundred nurses.''

I never understood this complaint. The basketball star only provides entertainment, which is less valuable than nursing--but although what he provides is less valuable, he makes up for it in volume. A basketball star can entertain tens of millions of people at once. A nurse can treat one person at a time. We could value the nurse hundreds of times more and the basketball star would still make more than hundreds of nurses just because the basketball star's much less valuable job is multiplied by fifty million.

Finn

"in SOME cases it seems that women gravitate (or perhaps have no other choice) to jobs that are not treasured as much by the masses. "

You've got it backwards: Pink-collar jobs pay less BECAUSE they are primarily filled by women; they are not primarily filled by women because they "gravitate" to lower-paying jobs. Everyone 50+ who's working started doing so when workplace gender discrimination was widespread and women wouldn't even be considered for a wide variety of jobs, and men were routinely paid more than women doing precisely the same job because they were assumed to "have a family to support" while women were assumed to be supported by their husbands (whether or not they even had one). The legacy of this is still seen in salaries today, which show more gender disparity between middle-aged workers than younger workers, among whom professional women make slightly more than professional men in some cities.

Read more...

PaulD

An interesting phenomenon that we're all aware of is that converts are often the most passionate and committed.

Me, I was just born into the whole male role thing -- which is fine by me. But lesbian women -- or at least some of them -- have taken on the classic male persona by choice and perhaps are more intent on achieving dominance and proficiency than most men. I wouldn't be surprised if they make more than men, let alone straight women.

Brett

Finn... come on now...

Not to know teachers, but any college graduate could meet the requirements to be a teacher. They might not be a good one, but judging by how our country does in education most of our current teachers are not either. On the other hand, a very small percentage of college graduates are or have the capability to be proficient in differential equations, organic chemistry etc. It is simply a product of supply and demand. Anyone can become a teacher, so they are not paid very much. It is hard to become a doctor so they are paid a lot...

Cash McDollar

I would like validation of this old wives tale reguarding Same Sex Marriages.

Women Lesbians are TWICE as likely to be married or in a civil union as Gay Males. Perhaps even lesbians like their heterosexual sisters are incalcated in the myth of a happy married life, planning the big Wedding, and all those Bride Bouquet and accessories like the crab fork.
Men continue to be lone wolves on the prowl.

QUESTION: Are most supporters for Same Sex Marriages, women lesbians?

Joe Clark

So! Let's answer people's questions.

Jill, you're asking questions that were adequately answered in the original research I summarized. Note: I just summarized it. Several studies I read looked into the specifics of gay and lesbian occupational choices, particularly the levels at which subjects worked in specific disciplines.

If you're trying to say that workplace discrimination leads employers to pay gay males less because they come off as effeminate or are otherwise detectable, that hypothesis has been tested in the research and there are ambiguous results at best. Still, the effect seems to be a combination of occupational choice *and* treatment by the employer. It is rather interesting that at least one paper found that pay discrepancies even out for very senior gay-male workers, which the paper essentially attributed to those workers' choosing job sectors where they weren't discriminated against.

But by far the most important point is that personal job choice is a much more significant factor in income and earnings than discrimination is. In fact, I was almost completely unconvinced by the papers that examined workplace discrimination and its effects on income and earnings.

Meg, interestingly enough several studies showed that gay and lesbian incomes are comparable *to each other*. But those similar figures put them lower on the scale than straight males and higher than straight females.

Jen, economists whose papers I read (and I read essentially all of them) tie themselves up in knots to avoid any postulate that gay males and lesbians might just prefer certain occupations, and avoid others, because of internal personal characteristics. At least one paper really did suggest that a gay-male high-school graduate would seriously consider continuing on to university and immediately getting a job on a construction site as equally desirable options. (It didn't use those exact scenarios.)

Read more...

James

Re #6: "Lesbian women go into higher paying professions for the same reason that a lot of us can fix our own computers, change our own tires, and mow the lawn. Men don't look after us. We learn to do all of the things men would usually do."

Which (to go off-topic a bit) is why I tend to like the lesbian women I know as friends, and to be powerfully attracted to the rare heterosexual women who follow similar paths.

Ken

When I worked at IBM, I (as a gay employee) was always paid less than my straight peers. I remember one year, I was given a '2' rating and got a 6% increase (this was the early 1990s) while my straight peers, who had been given '3' ratings (lower rating) were given 10% increases, even though I was already at the bottom of the pay grid. And ... in two different years, I had to get two pay increases to get myself up to the bottom of the pay grid! I no longer work there, in part, for this type of inconsistency.

Jen

Jen, economists whose papers I read (and I read essentially all of them) tie themselves up in knots to avoid any postulate that gay males and lesbians might just prefer certain occupations, and avoid others, because of internal personal characteristics. At least one paper really did suggest that a gay-male high-school graduate would seriously consider continuing on to university and immediately getting a job on a construction site as equally desirable options. (It didn't use those exact scenarios.)

Yeah, I wouldn't suggest that there are hard-wired biological differences between lesbian and straight women outside of the defining difference. What I'm suggesting is that lesbians have more.. let's call them "masculine learning opportunities" than straight women. When the toilet breaks either my partner or I will take a look at it. Consequently, we know how to fix toilets. I'm not sure how many straight women can fix a toilet. That isn't to say none can, it's just to say I would bet that a good number of lesbians probably know what the inside of a toilet looks like. Straight women could absolutely learn to do these kinds of things, but they usually don't because men typically do them. I'm generalizing.

My partner came out when she was 12 years old and she never has never had a boyfriend. She didn't grown up thinking about what kind of role she would play as the "woman" half of a couple or what kinds of skills a man might bring to a relationship. So she learned how to do a lot of things regardless of gender. I mean, when the microwave stops working, she knows where to find the circuit breaker.

I just don't think life experiences can be completely excluded. A straight woman grows up with certain expectations about herself and about her future husband. A lesbian grows up with a different set of expectations. Each individual will probably walk away with different skills. Obviously, this is a generalization, but I can't help but think when a lesbian grows up only wanting the company of men as fathers, brothers, and friends, it makes a big difference.

Read more...

emr

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at some of the stereotypes in the comments after this article.

Joe Clark

I didn't say "hardwired biological differences," though of course they exist. I said "internal personal characteristics," which also exist.

Economists act as though (for example) gay-male and straight-male high-school graduates have exactly equivalent tastes and predilections yet - inexplicably! - different outcomes.