Out and About: Predicting Lesbians' Outness in the Workplace

Open Access
House, Chloe Jean Casella
Graduate Program:
Counseling Psychology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 24, 2004
Committee Members:
  • Kathleen Bieschke, Committee Chair
  • Constance Matthews, Committee Chair
  • Brandon Hunt, Committee Member
  • Carolyn Elizabeth Sachs, Committee Member
  • lesbian
  • workplace
  • sexual identity development
  • internalized homophobia
  • heterosexism
  • discrimination
  • self-disclosure
Self-disclosure of sexual orientation in the workplace for lesbian women is a complicated issue because of the lack of national legal protection against sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace. However, employees who have higher levels of self-disclosure of a lesbian or gay sexual orientation also have higher levels of job commitment and job satisfaction (Day & Schoenrade, 1997; Ragins & Cornwell, 2001; Waldo, 1999). Exploratory studies have looked at what factors are related to disclosing a gay or lesbian sexual orientation in the workplace. The field is now moving toward hypothesis-testing of different variables as predictors of self-disclosure of sexual orientation. This study is based on theory by Super (1990) that a person and her or his work environment will play important roles for implementation of the self at work. Structural equation modeling was used to test a model predicting self-disclosure of sexual identity in the workplace with a sample of 398 lesbian women. Results suggested that a structural model including organizational tolerance of heterosexism, direct and indirect heterosexist experiences, and internalized homophobia as predictors of self-disclosure of sexual orientation in the workplace for lesbian women fit the data adequately. As operationalized, the sexual identity development variables violated the multicollinearity assumption of SEM. In a post-hoc sequential multiple regression analysis, the internal variables internalized homophobia and sexual identity development accounted for a small amount of variance after workplace and demographic variables were entered. Limitations of this study and implications for research and practice are discussed.