Date of Award

Spring 2017

Date Available to Non-EWU Users

June 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Psychology: Clinical




The purpose of the present study was to explore whether or not agentic stereotypes attributed to lesbian and masculine appearing women would provide an advantage in obtaining employment. Previous research has shown that lesbian women are favored over heterosexual women, and masculine appearing individuals are favored over feminine appearing individuals for traditionally masculine jobs. The present study contributes to this body of research in that it examines the role of appearance for lesbian women (in addition to heterosexual women), as well as the potential mediating role of agency in these hiring decisions. I predicted that the lesbian and masculine appearing applicants would be attributed more agentic stereotypes than heterosexual and feminine appearing women and that this would lead to higher agency and hireability ratings, as well as a higher salary. Participants in the present study were 222 undergraduate university students. They read a job description for “Executive Director,” followed by a vignette of a female job applicant, which included an image of a woman with more masculine or feminine facial features. They then rated the applicant on agentic traits, how hirable they thought she would be, how much they would pay her, and how high they assessed her salary allotment to be. As predicted, the lesbian applicant was perceived to be higher in agency, which accounted for higher hireability ratings than the heterosexual applicant. She was not allotted a higher salary, but participants assessed the salary they gave her to be higher. Compared to the feminine applicant, he masculine applicant was rated as more agentic and was given a higher salary (an effect not mediated by agency perceptions), but was not seen as more hirable. Results of this study suggest that lesbian women may benefit from “outing” themselves to employers when applying for traditionally masculine jobs in order to exploit the benefits of the stereotypes attributed to them.