Much has been made about efforts to understand the root causes of the gender pay gap between men and women and how we as a society might close it to ensure equal pay for equal work. But when you start parsing out the data, the differences in compensation between men and women aren’t so black and white—it turns out lesbians actually enjoy a significant pay premium over their heterosexual females counterparts.
That’s the finding of Marieka Klawitter of the University of Washington, who analyzed 29 studies on wages and sexual orientation, reports The Economist. On the whole, women make $0.77 on the dollar. But Klawitter’s analysis found that lesbian women actually get paid, on average, 9% more than heterosexual women (the effect does not hold true for gay men, who earn, on average, 11% less than straight men).
Cautioning that data on this sort of question is sketchy at best, the study proposes a few possible causes of this pay premium, such as the possibility that lesbians, deprived of the generally higher earnings of a male partner, may press harder for higher compensation; or that the longer hours and more work days lesbians tend to put in over straight women may translate over time into better job experience leading to promotions to higher paying positions. The pay premium may even be the result of positive discrimination, in which employers are more likely to promote lesbian women under the assumption that they will be less likely to have families with children.
In any case, as The Economist Notes, evidence suggests lesbians may still face discrimination in hiring compared to straight women, and poverty rates among lesbians (%7.9) are a touch higher than for heterosexual women (6.6%).