Concealable Stigma and Occupational Segregation : Toward a Theory of Gay and Lesbian Occupations
Administrative Science Quarterly
US : Cornell University Press
446 - 481 p.
occupational segregation, sexual orientation, stigma, gay and lesbian workers, social perceptiveness, task independence
Numerous scholars have noted the disproportionately high number of gay and lesbian workers in certain occupations, but systematic explanations for this type of occupational segregation remain elusive. Drawing on the literatures on concealable stigma and stigma management, we develop a theoretical framework predicting that gay men and lesbians will concentrate in occupations that provide a high degree of task independence or require a high level of social perceptiveness, or both. Using several distinct measures of sexual orientation, and controlling for potential confounds, such as education, urban location, and regional and demographic differences, we find support for these predictions across two nationally representative surveys in the United States for the period 2008–2010. Gay men are more likely to be in female-majority occupations than are heterosexual men, and lesbians are more represented in male-majority occupations than are heterosexual women, but even after accounting for this tendency, common to both gay men and lesbians is a propensity to concentrate in occupations that provide task independence or require social perceptiveness, or both. This study offers a theory of occupational segregation on the basis of minority sexual orientation and holds implications for the literatures on stigma, occupations, and labor markets.