Gender-Stereotyping of Sexual Minorities at the Interpersonal Level

Presenter: Jin Xun Goh

Research Category:
Student Type: Graduate
PI: Judith Hall
Award Winner Category: Social Sciences, Business and Law

This study examined how people stereotype sexual minorities. Participants came to the lab for a study on first impressions and read a short hand-written autobiography of another student who was supposedly in the other room. In reality, this other student did not exist. We manipulated the gender (Mike/ Emily) and sexual orientation (gay/ straight) of this other student within the autobiography. After reading the autobiography, participants rated the extent to which they thought the other student would be interested in pursuing male-stereotypical, female-stereotypical, and science careers. Science career interests serve as proxy for male-stereotypical careers as men tend to outnumber women in science. In a 2(Gender) x 2(Sexual Orientation) Analysis of Variance with each career type as separate dependent variables, we found a significant interaction for female-stereotypical careers, such that participants thought the gay male would be more interested in female careers than his straight counterpart; participants thought the female would be interested in female careers regardless of sexual orientation. We also found an interaction for science careers, such that participants thought the straight male would be more interested in pursuing science than the gay male. For the female, the opposite pattern was found such that participants thought the female would be more interested in science if she were a lesbian relative to if she were straight. Using career interests as an indirect measure of how sexual minorities are stereotyped, we showed that people have a tendency to feminize gay men and masculinize lesbian women at the interpersonal level.