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A “lesbian advantage”? Analysing the intersections of gender, sexuality and class in male‐dominated work

Tessa Wright (School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 8 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider whether lesbians may experience an “advantage” in non‐traditionally female work compared to heterosexual women, but argues for an intersectional approach to understanding the relationship between gender, sexuality and class in male‐dominated work.

Design/methodology/approach

The research uses semi‐structured interviews with women working transport and construction, focusing here on an analysis of 13 interviews with lesbian workers, eight working in transport and five in construction, representing both professional/managerial and skilled manual occupations.

Findings

The paper considers the question of whether lesbians may experience an “advantage” in non‐traditionally female work compared to heterosexual women, but finds that their experience is complicated by other factors such as ethnicity, class and organisational culture. Organisational response and practice in relation to sexual orientation is found to be equally significant in shaping the realities of working lives for lesbians in traditionally male work.

Research limitations/implications

The findings in this paper are based on an analysis of interviews with lesbians drawn from a larger research project examining the experience of both heterosexual and lesbian women working in the transport and construction sectors.

Originality/value

The paper addresses a gap in the literature on lesbian experience in non‐traditionally female work and aims to contribute to knowledge of the diversity of lesbian experience through examining the working lives of lesbians in both professional and skilled manual roles.

Keywords

Citation

Wright, T. (2011), "A “lesbian advantage”? Analysing the intersections of gender, sexuality and class in male‐dominated work", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 30 No. 8, pp. 686-701. https://doi.org/10.1108/02610151111183207

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited