Thanks to Kristin Beals, Faye Crosby, David Frederick, Irene H. Frieze, Linda Garnets, Jacqueline Goodchilds, and Emily Impett for helpful comments on earlier versions of this article, to Cristina Nguyen for library assistance, and to Amy J. C. Cuddy, Susan T. Fiske, and Peter Glick for sharing their research materials with us.
The Paradox of the Lesbian Worker
Article first published online: 8 NOV 2004
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 60, Issue 4, pages 719–735, December 2004
How to Cite
Peplau, L. A. and Fingerhut, A. (2004), The Paradox of the Lesbian Worker. Journal of Social Issues, 60: 719–735. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-4537.2004.00382.x
- Issue published online: 8 NOV 2004
- Article first published online: 8 NOV 2004
Common sense might suggest that lesbian workers are doubly disadvantaged due to their gender and their stigmatized sexual orientation. But empirical research documents that lesbian workers earn more than their heterosexual women peers. This article considers two reasons for the economic advantage of lesbian workers. First, because lesbians must provide for themselves and their children, they may pursue nontraditional, higher-paying jobs and show increased work motivation. Second, stereotypes may depict lesbians, including lesbian mothers, as competent and committed workers. A review of available research is augmented with data from a study of 162 college students. Results indicate that motherhood detracts from the perceived work commitment and competence of heterosexual mothers but not lesbian mothers. Directions for future research are considered.