College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-14-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alice Stuhlmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Annette Towler, Ph.D.


This study addressed a gap in the industrial-organizational psychology research by investigating perceptions of LGBTQ leaders in the workplace. Specifically, it investigated the theory that gay men and heterosexual women experience similar scrutiny and resulting discrimination when in leadership roles. Participants were 363 psychology students who evaluated an applicant for a managerial position. Participants scored the candidate’s leadership potential (hirability) and effectiveness based upon his resume, biography, and short video interview. The candidate’s sexual orientation (gay, heterosexual, control) and behavioral style (agentic/masculine, communal/feminine) were manipulated, for a resulting 2 x 3 research design. By integrating gender and leadership theories with stereotyping literature, it was hypothesized that the gay candidate would be perceived to be less hirable and less effective than the heterosexual candidate. Further, an interaction between the candidate’s sexual orientation and behavioral style was expected. Specifically, it was hypothesized that scores of hirability and effectiveness would be lower for the gay candidate who employed a communal behavioral style than the gay candidate who used agentic behaviors. There was no main effect found for sexual orientation; gay and heterosexual candidates received similar scores. There was a marginally significant interaction effect on perceived leadership effectiveness in the expected direction. These results are discussed in parallel with findings in gender and leadership literature. Limitations and recommendations for future research directions are discussed.