Lesbians earn more money because they don’t have to put up with men at home

Stock image of lesbian couple

A TikToker has claimed that lesbians may make more money than straight women due to a more equal division of domestic work. 

In a recent video, TikToker Aria Velz spoke about a 2016 study which found that lesbians around the world earn about 9 per cent more than straight women, a phenomenon dubbed the “lesbian wage premium”, explaining that it could be because queer women don’t have to put up with the infamous “domestic labour” gap in straight relationships.

Velz explained that lesbians could earn more than straight women due to a number of reasons, including that “lesbians tend to be more educated than straight women, are less likely to have children, live more predominantly in cities, and have more professional jobs.”

But, she explained, this earnings gap could also be because studies have found that in straight couples where both partners work, women still do 30 per cent more housework than men, and 50 per cent more unpaid care, whereas lesbians tend to have a better balance.

“[Straight] women will often have to make the trade-off for advancing their career in order to maintain the house, while men usually just have to focus on their careers,” Velz said.

“The lesson here is not that lesbians are better at making money,” she added.

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“It reconfirms that the domestic labor situation at home contributes to how women earn more outside the home – and lesbians have just learned that lesson first.”

Where does the gender pay gap fit into this?

Things might not be as simple as the TikTok made out. 

While on average, lesbians do tend to earn more than straight women – based on the often-cited 2016 study – several factors, including the gender pay gap and LGBTQ+ discrimination, mean that higher earnings aren’t always a guarantee for queer women, especially during the cost-of-living crisis

Back in 2015, when the lesbian wage premium was first identified, Slate pointed out that not only were lesbians more likely to be poor than the general population, two women in a couple were more likely to be hit by a loss of earnings due to the the gender pay gap compared to an opposite-sex relationship.

This means that while lesbians do tend to earn more than straight women, lesbians still don’t earn as much as straight men, meaning that without a man’s typically higher earnings, the actual household as a whole is worse off.

“Any benefits to being lesbian are canceled out when couples’ earnings are considered in aggregate – there, lesbians fare the worst of anyone,” Slate wrote. 

In fact, a more recent study from 2023 found that one in five lesbians (18 per cent) are living “paycheque-to-paycheque”, while queer women are 10 per cent less likely to be promoted than straight women. 

For LGBTQ+ people as a whole, the community is far more likely to experience homelessness, face poverty in retirement, or come up against wealth gaps like historically having to pay for fertility treatments

Lucy Bisset, director of recruitment firm Robert Walters, told Metro about the findings: “Whilst there are some improvements to be celebrated – we continue to see the presence of negative experiences of minority or marginalised groups in the workplace.

“The dial has been pushed on gender pay transparency but this report highlights a more concerning issue that for LGBTQI+ women, it appears to be much harder for them to even approach the idea of negotiating for a better salary or a promotion…

“I urge all employers to start diving deeper into the experiences of LGBTQI+ professionals in the workplace.”

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