Isn’t it rather hard to believe that you can be face discrimination based on how your voice sounds to the hiring managers? A new study suggests just that! The study was conducted by Fabio Fasoli & Peter Hegarty, lecturers at the School of Phycology at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, discovered this hard to swallow the truth about sexual discrimination. This study was published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly and points out that women who sound lesbian are at a higher risk of facing discrimination during the hiring process though discrimination also exists gay-sounding men.

The study was conducted to find out the impact of vocal clues binding sexual orientation on the overall judgement of sexual orientation of a candidate and how that influences the hiring process for leadership roles. For the study, only heterosexual hiring managers were employed. All of them were made to listen to tapings of different job applicants and were asked to classify their sexual orientation through vocal clues. They were also to rate the candidates on their suitability and employability for leadership roles. The findings and analysis of data presented the main outcome that gay sounding men and lesbian sounding women are considered as less competent compared to heterosexual perceived counterparts and are judged as poorly suited for leadership roles. The discrimination is higher when the candidate is perceived as lesbian-sounding and even if the voice cues are masculine they are considered less suitable for leadership roles.

This kind of discrimination is has been given the term ‘Gaydar discrimination’. Gaydar refers to the ability to correctly judge the sexual orientation of a person based on minimal clues. Voices have stereotypes and carry subtle cues toward a person’s sexual orientation. These minimal and subtle cues are enough to render a hiring decision against a lesbian-sounding or gay- sounding candidate. The study also asked heterosexual hiring managers to test employability and suitability of candidates for leadership or assistantship roles, they preferred gay-sounding -mostly classified a lesbian-sounding- candidate fit for low-status assistant jobs rather than as leaders. The authors recommend that with growing concerns and awareness around the inequality of LGBTQ community around the world, this study can impact hiring processes and court cases of sexual discrimination where clients are discriminated for sounding gay at the workplace.


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