If you are a gay or lesbian woman, chances are that you may face discrimination and be considered inadequate while seeking top positions at workplace, due to the sound of your voice, a new study has found.
In a study, led by researchers at the University of Surrey in Britain, participants considered male candidates’ auditory features, not facial which impacted on whether they were deemed suitable for the role.
It was because having a heterosexual rather than a ‘gay-sounding’ voice created the impression that the speaker had typically masculine traits, which in turn increased their perceived suitability for the role and the chance of receiving a higher salary.
Lesbian candidates were associated with a lack of femininity and identified as gender non-conforming and received less positive evaluation than heterosexual counterparts.
“These results demonstrate that the mere sound of a voice is sufficient to trigger stereotyping denying gay- and lesbian-sounding speakers, the qualities that are considered typical of their gender,” said Fabio Fasoli from the University of Surrey.
The study also revealed that people thought gay men should be paid less than their heterosexual counterparts.
“This study highlights that it can be a real problem in the workplace and for people’s career prospects,” Fasoli added in the paper appearing in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour.
In addition, the participants were found to attribute more feminine traits to the gay than to the heterosexual speakers and lesbian speakers were more likely to be associated with masculine than to feminine characteristics.
When asked which of the speakers the participants would choose as an acquaintance for an interaction, male participants were more likely to avoid male gay-sounding speakers, suggesting a subtle impact of voice on social exclusion of gay individuals, researchers noted.
“This study demonstrates that unacceptable levels of discrimination, be they subconscious or conscious, still exists in our society, and we need to do more to tackle the discrimination faced by the LGBT community,” Fasoli said.