Research across various domains, including sport and physical activity, has consistently revealed that men express more prejudice toward gays and lesbians than do women (e.g., Herek, 2000). Further, a great deal of literature suggests that such differences are due to gender-based stereotypical beliefs and negative attributions ascribed to surrounding sexual minorities. To date, however, the implications of these gendered differences have been relatively unexamined. The purpose of this inquiry was to extend the literature by examining the relationship between (gendered) sexual prejudice, ascribed attributions, and hiring recommendations. We hypothesized that not only would male raters express more sexual prejudice than female raters, but that the hiring recommendations of males and females would correspond with their differential prejudicial attitudes.
Participants (N=59) were students enrolled in health and kinesiology classes at a large Southern university. Students were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions that presented viable applicants for the position of personal trainer at a fitness organization. The first condition, however, was manipulated such that the presumption of heterosexuality could be made. Conversely, the second condition allowed for the presumption of homosexuality. Participants were asked to rate the applicant on a series of attributions (e.g., trustworthy) on a 7-point Likert-type scale. Participants were also instructed to suppose that they were hiring the individual for a personal training position, review the information provided, and make a hiring recommendation.
We tested our assertions through observed path analysis. Results indicate that the model was a close fit to the data: chi-square (df = 3) = 3.55, p = .31; RMSEA = .05; CFI = .99. The rater's sex was related to attributions (beta = .59, p < .001; women were more positive than were men) while sexual orientation was not (beta = .23, p = .23). However, these effects were qualified by the sex-by-applicant sexual orientation interaction (beta = -.60, p < .01). While there were no differences in the ratings of heterosexuals, men rated presumed homosexuals lower than did women. These ratings were then positively related to hiring recommendations (beta = .26, p < .05).
The differences in ratings between males and females corresponded to their recommendations for hire. Simply put, males were more prejudiced toward the homosexual applicants than were women and, as a result, less likely to recommend hiring the applicant. These findings carry important implications within sport and fitness organizations, as they illuminate potential biases in the hiring process.