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A study recently published in the “Archives of Sexual Behaviour” conducted researchers at the University Surrey in the UK introduced voice samples and images with backgrounds removed of homosexual (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer) alongside the heterosexual persons, to a panel of heterosexual men and women. Participants weren’t informed of the subjects sexual orientation but permitted to openly guess their sexual orientation purely on the voice and photo of their face. The premise of the study was the heterosexual participants were recruiters and hiring managers and was instructed to evaluate the employability of the candidates. The participants were asked to respond to 5 statements on a scale of 1-5 as well as to provide their view of the perceived monthly wages they believed would be fair for the candidate.

They found that when participants perceived subjects to be homosexual (LGBT) – real or not, the believed them to be inadequate as leaders.

For male study candidates, voice and speech rather than physical looks influenced heavily on if they have been deemed appropriate for the job. Researchers discovered that projecting a “heterosexual-sounding” instead of the “gay-sounding” voice generated the belief that the study candidate normally displays masculine traits, which subsequently improved their perceived suitability for the job and the justification for a higher wage and advancement. The study discovered that heterosexuals believed gay men ought to be paid less than their heterosexual counterparts.

Perceived lesbian applicants were correlated with a deficiency of femininity and deemed as gender non-conforming. They received significantly less favorable evaluation compared to heterosexual perceived counterparts.

Dr. Fabio Fasoli explained: “These results reveal that the mere sound of a voice is enough to trigger stereotyping denying gay-sounding along with lesbian-sounding speakers that the benefit which is deemed typical of the gender.”

This study is demonstrating that despite all of the work to reduce workplace discrimination against the perceived and real LGBT workers and professionals, heterosexual individuals subconsciously typecast a person before getting to know them and make decisions to discriminate against them. This study highlights the real struggles at work and their career prospects. Heterosexuals can say that they pay their staff based on their qualifications, however, the basis of the employee/s value is being directly influenced by learned prejudices and stereotypes perpetuating inequality and oppression.

In another study participants were requested to listen to only the voices of two distinct speakers of one neutral content sentence and then asked to assess the speakers’ probable character traits and individual interests (i.e. sports, arts, areas of study and career). The traits and interests were manipulated in order to uncover stereotyping regarded as “generally manly” (e.g., soccer) and “typically feminine” (e.g., dancing). Additionally, participants were asked which of those speakers they’d select as a friend. The study was done in two parts. The first studying males and the second females.

Researchers found that participants attributed womanly traits into the perceived gay males compared to perceived heterosexual male speakers. Perceived lesbian speakers were far much more likely to be associated with manly traits than with feminine traits.

When asked which of these speakers’ participants would select as an acquaintance/friend, researchers discovered that male participants were far more likely to steer clear of gay-sounding speakers. This indicates the subtle yet real effect of how purely the voice and speech patterns contributes to social exclusion of homosexual people both in the workplace and in general society.

Dr. Fasoli added: “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.”

More information: Fabio Fasoli et al, Gay- and Lesbian-Sounding Auditory Cues Elicit Stereotyping and Discrimination, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s10508-017-0962-0

Journal reference: Archives of Sexual Behavior – Springer Science+Business Media –
http://www.springer.com/public+health/journal/10508

University of Surrey – http://www.surrey.ac.uk/

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