Researchers Discover Salary Advantage For Black Gay Men

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 05/22/2014 | 11:30 AM EDT

A Princeton team discovers the double disadvantage of being gay and Black is actually an advantage when applying for a job

Researchers have found that while gay men and Black men experience discrimination in the workforce, men who are both gay and Black somehow benefit from what they call a “double discrimination advantage.”

An experiment conducted by a team at Princeton resulted in the discovery that Black gay men could end up with higher starting salaries than Black straight men and White gay men, and the equivalent to White straight men, simply based on social identities and stereotypes.

Published in a paper entitled, "The Positive Consequences of Negative Stereotypes: Race, Sexual Orientation and the Job Application Process," the findings debunk the theoretical idea that the more marginalized social categories you fall in the more disadvantaged you are. In fact, in the case of race and sexuality, some researchers suggest quite the opposite.


“Stereotypes about gay men as effeminate and weak will counteract common negative stereotypes held by Whites that Black men are threatening and criminal,” wrote sociologist David Pedulla in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

“Thus, I argue that being gay will have negative consequences for White men in the job application process, but that being gay will actually have positive consequences for Black men in this realm.”

The results came from an experiment in which 231 White participants were asked in a nationwide survey to suggest a starting salary for an applicant for a fictional job as an assistant manager at a large retail store.

The Daily Mail reports:

Each participant was shown one of four résumés, which were identical except for two items. Half used a white-sounding name, Brad Miller, and half used a black-sounding name, Darnell Jackson. In addition, half noted the applicant's role as president of the 'Gay Student Advisory Council' in college while the other half listed his role as president of the 'Student Advisory Council.'

The result was that each participant suggested a starting salary for an applicant portrayed as a straight white man, a gay white man, a gay black man or a straight black man. Participants were also asked questions about the applicant that Pedulla used to measure how 'threatening' they perceived the applicant to be. The survey participants recommended lower starting salaries for straight black men and gay white men than for straight white men, indicating a salary penalty for being black or for being gay, Pedulla said. 'However, there is no salary penalty for gay black men, who receive higher salary recommendations than straight black men and salary recommendations on par with straight white men,' Pedulla said.


The findings suggest that when it comes to stereotypes, discrimination, and intersecting social identities, the process is more complex and that the contents of the stereotypes of different disadvantaged groups can counteract one another. Essentially, while one group of people - such as Black gay men - may be disadvantaged in some contexts, they may see advantages in others.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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