Bisexual men paid 30% less than heterosexuals, study shows

23 October 2016

Bisexual men are paid around 30% less an hour on average than heterosexual men, a new study says.

But gay men and lesbians earn about the same as heterosexuals says the research, by Professor Alex Bryson, of UCL Institute of Education.

In an article in the journal Work, Employment and Society, run by the British Sociological Association, Professor Bryson analysed survey data on 20,000 employees in almost 2,000 workplaces in Britain. He found that:

  • the average gross hourly earnings for bisexual men was £9.39, compared with £12.30 for heterosexual men, a gap of 31%.
  • the average hourly earnings for gay men was £13.33, £1.03 more than for heterosexual men.
  • the average hourly earnings for lesbians was £9.87, similar to the £9.97 earned by heterosexual women. In workplaces with an explicit equal opportunities policy on sexual orientation – around three-quarters of the total – the pay of lesbians was higher. In those without a specific policy, lesbians earned around 30% less.
  • the average hourly earnings for bisexual women was £9.58.

Professor Bryson then analysed the data to compare people of similar ages working in similar workplaces and jobs to get a better idea of the effect of sexuality alone. He found what he called "sizeable" wage gaps still persisted:

  • the average hourly earnings for bisexual men was 20% less than for heterosexual men, even if the workplace with an explicit equal opportunities policy on sexual orientation. This gap was found across workplaces and in different types of occupations, and it applied in London as well as non-metropolitan areas.
  • the average hourly earnings for gay men were 5% less than those of heterosexual men, but this result was not statistically significant. 

The study is the first of its kind carried out in Britain since the passage of legislation in 2003 and 2010 against discrimination on sexuality. It drew on survey responses from 312 gays and lesbians, 118 bisexuals, 18,635 heterosexuals and 986 grouped as 'other'.

In discussing the main result, Professor Bryson said that qualitative evidence by other researchers showed that "the attitudes of both employers and employees towards bisexual employees lag behind the positive developments there have been with respect to perceptions of homosexual employees."

He said that the finding that there was no significant wage gap between gay and heterosexual men was "in contrast to most previous research in this area".

The study drew on data gathered for the Workplace Employment Relations Survey in 2011 and 2012, a nationally representative survey of workplaces with five or more staff, covering all sectors of the economy except agriculture and mining.

Work, Employment and Society is published by the British Sociological Association and SAGE. It is ranked 14th out of 142 sociology journals worldwide.


  1. The paper is entitled 'Pay equity after the Equality Act 2010: does sexual orientation still matter?'. It is published online, and will be published in a print edition of Work, Employment and Society.
  2. The British Sociological Association's charitable aim is to promote sociology. The BSA is a Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered in England and Wales. Company Number: 3890729. Registered Charity Number 1080235

For more information, please contact:

Tony Trueman
British Sociological Association
Tel: 07964 023392