Researchers have found multiple types of discrimination can sometime benefit people.

A Princeton team studied the effect of race and sexuality on starting salaries.

They found that that a ‘double disadvantage’ can actually be an advantage for gay black men when they apply for a job.

‘How do marginalized social categories, such as being black and gay, combine with one another in the production of discrimination?’ wrote Sociologist David Pedulla in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly.

‘While much extant research assumes that combining marginalized social categories results in a ‘double disadvantage,’ I argue that in the case of race and sexual orientation the opposite may be true.

‘Stereotypes about gay men as effeminate and weak will counteract common negative stereotypes held by whites that black men are threatening and criminal.

‘Thus, I argue that being gay will have negative consequences for white men in the job application process, but that being gay will actually have positive consequences for black men in this realm.’

Sociologist David Pedulla asked 231 white participants in a nationwide survey to suggest a starting salary for an applicant for a fictional job as an assistant manager at a large retail store.

Each participant was shown one of four résumés, which were identical except for two items.

Half used a white-sounding name, Brad Miller, and half used a black-sounding name, Darnell Jackson.

In addition, half noted the applicant’s role as president of the ‘Gay Student Advisory Council’ in college while the other half listed his role as president of the ‘Student Advisory Council.’

The result was that each participant suggested a starting salary for an applicant portrayed as a straight white man, a gay white man, a gay black man or a straight black man.

Participants were also asked questions about the applicant that Pedulla used to measure how ‘threatening’ they perceived the applicant to be.

The survey participants recommended lower starting salaries for straight black men and gay white men than for straight white men, indicating a salary penalty for being black or for being gay, Pedulla said.

‘However, there is no salary penalty for gay black men, who receive higher salary recommendations than straight black men and salary recommendations on par with straight white men,’ Pedulla said.

‘There is some evidence that gay black men are perceived as less threatening than straight black men and that this difference accounts for a piece of the salary recommendation difference between these two groups.’

The research is described in a paper titled “The Positive Consequences of Negative Stereotypes: Race, Sexual Orientation and the Job Application Process” that was published in March in Social Psychology Quarterly.

‘The findings contribute to important theoretical debates about stereotypes, discrimination, and intersecting social identities,’ wrote Pedulla.

Robb Willer, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, said Pedulla’s research is ‘cutting-edge theoretically.

‘Several lines of work in the social sciences would suggest that membership in disadvantaged social categories combine in simple, straightforward ways,’ said Willer, whose research interests include status hierarchies.

‘But Pedulla’s work suggests the process is more complex and that the contents of the stereotypes of different disadvantaged groups can counteract one another, leading to less total disadvantage than would have previously been expected.

Tamar Kricheli-Katz, who is an assistant professor at the Buchman Faculty of Law and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, said it is important to note that being a member of two disadvantaged groups may not always be beneficial.

‘The effect depends on the content of the contradicting stereotypes and on the context and its cultural meanings,’ said Kricheli-Katz, whose research interests include inequality, anti-discrimination law and employment law.

‘As a result, the same group of people (like black gay men) may be disadvantaged in some contexts while advantaged in others.’

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