Lesbians earn 12 percent more than their straight counterparts, according to a global study. Researchers have said that the result is “puzzling”, but postulated that lesbian women may be more willing to take on jobs traditionally associated with masculine traits. Figures show that lesbians are also less likely to be mothers than straight women.
The study, which looked at equality in the labour market, found that lesbian women in Britain were paid on average 8 percent more than straight women, whilst in America, the figure rose to 20 percent. There was no significant difference in wages between straight and lesbian women in France or Sweden, whilst the only two countries in the study to show lesbians lagging behind in terms of pay were Greece, and Australia, where they earned 28 percent less than their straight colleagues.
Gay men, on the other hand, earned less than their straight colleagues in all countries surveyed. In the UK, France and Greece they earned just 5 percent less than their straight counterparts, rising to a 16 percent gap in the US, the Daily Mail has reported.
Australia, Canada, the US and the EU are amongst the world regions that have the strongest workplace protection for gay and lesbian rights.
The study was carried out by Dr Nick Drydakis, an economist at Angela Ruskin University in Cambridge. Although the results were, on the face of it, confusing, he has explained them by suggesting that discrimination is still at play as jobs which have ‘masculine’ characteristics pay more.
“A puzzling issue is the earnings premiums found for lesbian employees in some countries,” he said.
“Gay men often avoid certain male-dominated occupations in favour of female-dominated occupations – less masculine jobs – for which salaries may be lower. The higher salaries among lesbians in some countries may reflect discrimination in favour of masculine traits rather than against them. In addition, lesbians tend to self-select into male-dominated occupations that may offer higher salaries.’
He added: “There are no quantitative studies of the relationships among gender identity, personality characteristics and labour market prospects for lesbians. So whether lesbian employees possess characteristics that enhance their attributes for job advancement and earnings is still unknown.”
However, the results could also lend support to the claim by free marketers that women’s salaries tend to lag behind their male counterparts over their lifetime because women take time away from the workplace to raise children.
Some evidence to support this thesis can be found in statistics which show that in 2010, 53 percent of the total US female population aged 15-50 were mothers; but this figure drops to 48 percent for the lesbian population up to the age of 50.