US study says gay men are less likely to be offered job interviews

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An American study says that openly gay men are less likely to be called back for job interviews – particularly in the South and Midwest.

The research found that CVs which indicate an applicant is gay are 40 per cent less likely to be granted an interview than those which do not.

Harvard University researcher Andras Tilcsik sent two realistic but fictitious CVs to 1,700 white collar job openings, such as managerial positions.

One CV mentioned relevant experience in a university gay society as a treasurer, while the other listed experience in the ‘Progressive and Socialist Alliance’. Both were

Mr Tilcsik said that since employers are likely to associate both groups with left-leaning political views, this would separate any ‘gay penalty’ from the effects of political discrimination.

The results showed that applicants without the gay reference had an 11.5 per cent chance of being called for an interview. However, CVs which mentioned the gay society had only a 7.2 per cent chance. The difference amounted to a 40 per cent higher chance of the heterosexual applicant getting a call.

The study found that states in the South and Midwest – Florida, Ohio and Texas – had the largest differences in callback rates. However, minimal differences were found for Western and North-Eastern states such as California, Nevada, Pennsylvania and New York.

Mr Tilcsik said: “The results indicate that gay men encounter significant barriers in the hiring process because, at the initial point of contact, employers more readily disqualify openly gay applicants than equally qualified heterosexual applicants.”

The research also found that employers seeking stereotypically heterosexual male traits were more likely to discriminate against gay men.

CVs which listed the gay university society had lower callback rates when the employer described the ideal candidate for the job as “assertive,” “aggressive,” or “decisive.

“It seems, therefore, that the discrimination documented in this study is partly rooted in specific stereotypes and cannot be completely reduced to a general antipathy against gay employees,” Mr Tilcsik wrote.

The study was published today in the American Journal of Sociology.