Career Talk

/ 4 years ago /

 Article by Alex Ekong

We need to talk about the sexuality pay gap

It’s like this. We at Debut want everyone to win when it comes to careers. And we’ll draw attention to anything that stops that from happening.

Which is why this new study from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) worries us so much. They’ve just dropped a working paper which discusses the differences in earnings between straight, gay and lesbian couples. Sadly, much of it confirmed what has been said in previous studies dating back as far as 1995. These were the major takeaways.

Gay workers earn at least 10% less than their straight counterparts

A review of American industrial and labour relations in 1995 revealed that gay and bisexual men earned between 11 and 27% less than straight men in the same industry. This is after after you account for education, experience, location etc. It’s also persisted in spite of more enlightened attitudes to the LGBT+ community, with a 2015 study finding the gap to be as large as 30% in some places.

Lesbian women earn on average 6% more than their straight counterparts…

The study also talks about about a phenomenon called the ‘Lesbian Pay Premium’. This sees lesbian women actually earn between 5.5 and 6% more than straight women on average under the same conditions.

While this may seem to be a boon for lesbian women, straight women seem to be penalised for simply having the potential to have children. Which, of course, is way out of line. Generally a lesser likelihood of lesbian women to take maternity leave has been cited for the statistic. They are also less likely work in typically industries dominated by women, in which a typical salary is 39% less than its male equivalent.

…But still earn less than men

And that’s just one example of how the perennial gender gap rears its ugly head here. Furthermore, according to a 2009 study, although lesbian women are paid marginally better than straight women, they are still paid far less than both gay and straight men.

The difference between same and different sex couples is even larger

These trends get more prevalent in couples. According to the EBRD’s study, the gap between lesbian partners and hetero women in partnerships gets bigger due to lesbian women being more consistently active in the labour market. With men, the reverse is true, with gay men being statistically more likely to work part-time hours.

We all deserve the right to live well, work well and take care of our families. While the EBRD’s study concedes that the UK’s legislation against workplace discrimination has had some effect, it’s overall impact needs to be much better. These studies are a start but until they spark a bigger discussion and include statistics for trans people and those with other identities (which are extremely lacking here), they’ll fail to be effective.

Whatever happens, it falls to us to start the dialogue.  So if this effects you or anyone you know, talk about it with anyone who will listen.

Stats by Quartz

Connect with Debut on Facebook and Twitter

More from this category


Career Talk

/3 years ago

5 common misconceptions about marketing graduate schemes

Marketing graduate schemes can be a surprising and rewarding experience. Like with any job, It's not always exactly as you pictured it.

Read more


Career Talk

/3 years ago

The generational pay gap is a thing and you need to know about it

We will be the first generation to earn less than our parents. The generational pay gap is very much real, and here's what you need to know about it.

Read more

For the full Insight section, Download Debut today

Debut is available to download in the iOS App Store & Google Play Store