New research into workplace discrimination has found that your voice could cost you that all-important promotion.
A new experiment has found that gay men and lesbians who sound “too gay” may be routinely excluded from top jobs.
A man who sounds too feminine or a woman who sounds too masculine (which is a subjective value), could end up being looked over when it comes to advancing their career.
The study added that it’s even more likely someone who is perceived to be LGBT+ will be discriminated against if it’s a heterosexual male making the employment decision.
The University of Surrey played recordings of gay and straight women and men to 40 heterosexual men, as well as being shown photographs of the speakers.
They were not told their sexual orientation, but were asked to award them a monthly salary in a fictional corporate executive job based on what they had heard and seen from the candidate.
“The participants had minimal information about the candidates,” Dr. Fabio Fasoli told Broadly. “Just a short audio file saying, ‘Hello, I’m Mark, I’m 32 years old.’
“Then we’d manipulate the voice electronically, so that half sounded [stereotypically] straight, and half sounded gay.
“The participant didn’t know anything about the actual sexual orientation of the person, they were only exposed to a voice commonly perceived as gay or straight sounding.”
Asked how he quantified whether a voice is gay or straight, Dr. Fasoli replied: “This was based on previous research we’d done in which we asked people to categorise sexual orientation based on voice samples.”
He added: “We found that heterosexual men were less likely to choose the gay-sounding speaker over the straight one.
“It could be that they preferred to interact with the straight-sounding person, or that they wanted to avoid the gay-sounding one—the results can be interpreted both ways.”
However, when they repeated the experiment asking heterosexual women to award the fictional salaries, Dr. Fasoli revealed that they “didn’t show any preference for one or the other speaker.”
Naturally, he hopes the research will help stamp out discrimination in the workplace through breaking down stereotypes.
“We hope on the more practical level people will become aware that there’s a variety of different voices within gay and straight people, so that what we normally view as a gay voice is actually based on a stereotype we have.”