Queer Voices

Andras Tilcsik, Harvard Researcher, Finds Gay Resumes 40 Percent Less Likely To Secure Job Interview


A new study finds that resumes that reveal an applicant is gay are 40 percent less likely to secure an interview than those that don't.

Harvard researcher Andras Tilcsik composed two counterfeit resumes and sent them to the same 1,700 job openings. One resume listed experience as a treasurer in a gay college campus organization while the other merely referred to being involved in a "progressive and socialist alliance."

Tilcsik found that the non-gay resume had a 11.5 percent chance of receiving an interview, while the resume with a reference to the applicant's sexuality had only a 7.2 percent chance. The difference amounted to a 40 percent higher chance of the applicant who didn't reveal he was gay being contacted by the potential employer.

The difference between receiving an interview or not also appeared to be related to the location of the job opening. The largest gap was found in Southern and Midwestern states -- Texas, Florida, and Ohio -- while Western and Northeastern states -- California, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New York -- showed little difference in terms of which candidate was contacted.

"This doesn't necessarily mean that there is no discrimination in those states, just that the callback gaps were small in the case of the jobs to which I sent applications," Tilcsik said. "I think it's very plausible that, even in those states, there might be a large callback gap in some other jobs, industries, or counties. What this does show is that discrimination in white-collar employment is substantially stronger for the Southern and Midwestern states in the sample."

Tilcsik also found that the resume which showed experience in the gay university society received less responses when the job posting described looking for applicants who were "assertive," "aggressive," or "decisive."

"It seems, therefore, that the discrimination documented in this study is partly rooted in specific stereotypes and cannot be completely reduced to a general antipathy against gay employees," Tilcsik writes.

The study, which is the first of its kind to test the reaction of employers to gay male job seekers, was published today in the American Journal of Sociology.

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