Highlight: Dr. Kara Arnold

Dr-Kara-ArnoldDr. Kara Arnold’s recent research addresses an important gap in the understanding of gender stereotypes in the workplace.

Working with PhD graduate Dr. Heather Clarke, the duo has undertaken a series of studies funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to explore the impact of sexual orientation on hiring practices and job promotions in gender-typed work – that is, fields traditionally dominated by and considered better suitable for a specific gender. The 2018 study is called The influence of sexual orientation on the perceived fit of male applicants for both male- and female-typed jobs.

To date, little research has considered sexual orientation within the context of gender-typed work, an important oversight given that implicit inversion theory and past empirical work suggest that gay men are often viewed as less masculine and more feminine than heterosexual men.

Looking at male applicants for jobs of auto mechanic and esthetician, Drs. Clarke and Arnold found that heterosexual males are perceived as significantly more ineffective for esthetician jobs and more respect-worthy and hirable as mechanics, which is consistent with prior research on gender-typed work.

However, for gay males, the results were not statistically significant. They found no significant difference in the willingness to hire gay men in either female- or male-typed jobs. Participants’ sexual orientation didn’t affect how likely a gay man was to be perceived as respected, considered effectual or hired in gender-typed work.

This study suggests that gender stereotypes of gay men may be changing, and that gay men may be perceived as androgynous rather than feminine. Drs. Clarke and Arnold suggest that future studies are necessary to determine whether implicit inversion theory is in need of revision.


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