Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

David Hudgens

First Reader

Ken Erickson

Second Reader

Ken Erickson


Discrimination against LGBTQ employees in business settings has been shown to be a problem and negatively affects these employees’ productivity and well-being. In particular, discrimination against gay and other queer men often stems from the view that homosexuality is emasculating and conflicts with traditional expectations of male gender performance. This is seen as undesirable in business since traditional masculinity is seen as useful due to its association with competitiveness and control.

The purpose of this study is to determine whether this paradigm extends to the workplaces of public accounting firms. A survey containing questions about gender, sexuality, gender expression, experiences of discrimination, and firm policies was distributed to the LGBTQ employee groups in several firms. An interview was also conducted with a senior manager of a large firm in order to supplement the results of the survey.

The survey data confirm that a culture espousing heteronormative views of masculinity exists within public accounting firms. Queer men were more likely to report having been discriminated against, having been afraid of discrimination, and believing that their firm does not do enough to protect LGBTQ employees. However, there was no strong correlation found between more feminine gender expression among queer men and increased frequency of discrimination. Despite this, some queer men reported being afraid to present as too feminine out of fear of being discriminated against or inadvertently adhering to the stereotype that queer men are excessively flamboyant or effeminate.

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© 2021, Joshua Leinheiser