Washington D.C.: Gay and lesbian workers are likelier to miss out on the leadership positions due to the sound of their voice, according to a recent study.
The University of Surrey study also found that people thought gay men should be paid less than their heterosexual counterparts. During this study, researchers presented voice samples of gay and heterosexual speakers and pictures, devoid of any background features and other characteristics, to a heterosexual sample group. Participants were not informed of the sexual orientation of the person but allowed to freely guess from the voice or face of the individual.
The sample group were asked to form impressions about applicants for the fake position of CEO and evaluate the employability of candidates by responding to five statements (which were rated on a scale of one to five) and to report the amount of monthly salary they considered adequate. The process was then repeated with lesbian candidates.
Researchers discovered that participants perceived men and women who they considered to be gay or lesbian, as inadequate for a leadership position. For male candidates, auditory and not facial features impacted on whether they were deemed suitable for the role.
Researchers discovered that having a heterosexual- rather than a 'gay- sounding' voice created the impression that the speaker had typically masculine traits, which in turn increased their perceived suitability for the role and the chance of receiving a higher salary. Lesbian candidates were associated with a lack of femininity and identified as gender non-conforming and received less positive evaluation than heterosexual counterparts.
Researcher Fabio Fasoli said: "These results demonstrate that the mere sound of a voice is sufficient to trigger stereotyping denying gay and lesbian sounding speakers the qualities that are considered typical of their gender."
"It is revealing that despite all the work to lessen discrimination against the LGBT community, people subconsciously type cast an individual before getting to know them. This study highlights that it can be a real problem in the workplace and for people's career prospects," Fasoli noted.
In another study, researchers discovered that participants attributed more feminine traits to the gay than to the heterosexual speakers and lesbian speakers were more likely to be associated with masculine than to feminine characteristics. Interestingly, this happened without any mention of sexual orientation of the speakers demonstrating that vocal cues can lead to unfair stereotyping.
Fasoli continued: "What is most concerning about this study is the subconscious behaviour intention of participants, where heterosexual male participants avoided choosing a gay male as an acquaintance. This study demonstrates that unacceptable levels of discrimination, be they subconscious or conscious, still exists in our society, and we need to do more to tackle the discrimination faced by the LGBT community."
The study appears in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour....