Why do lesbians earn more than straight women?

Research shows that lesbian women earn more than straight women — even when you control for the facts that lesbian women tend to be better-educated, more likely to be white, live in cities, have fewer children, and more likely to be professionals. So how to explain this wage gap? Economics professor Marina Adshade of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, examines a hypothesis that it has to do with the division of labor in your typical heterosexual union. In short, the theory goes, a straight woman is raised with the assumption that she will most likely marry a man who earns more than she does for the same amount of work, and also that she will be taking on the lion’s share of at-home, unpaid labor. Which means that she is slightly less motivated that her lesbian peers to get ahead at work. Lesbian women — at least, as long as they have been gay — don’t make this assumption.

So, does this account for the wage gap? In part, yes. If you compare lesbian women who used to be in straight marriages (i.e. women who once did have those old-school, sad-but-true assumptions) with never-married lesbian women, the gap does not disappear completely, but it is reduced by about 17%. In other words, it would seem that this is one of the answers we’re looking for — but not the only one. So, what else shall we blame it on… more orgasms, perhaps?


photo by janet calcaterra