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A Queer Perspective on Economics

Written by: Olivia Williams
Published on: May 10, 2019

Lee Badgett head shot

We recently caught up with Dr. Lee Badgett, the economist who first published an article on the LGBTQ wage gap, to get her perspective on the value of bringing queer voices to academia.

How has being LGBTQ affected your career in academia?

I became a scholar to do research that would make a difference in the world, although I wasn't sure what that would look like when I started out.  So I made a conscious choice to be out at work at my first job, and I used to wear t-shirts with provocative LGBTQ messages to work out at the gym (which delighted some people but not all of them!).  Being an out lesbian turned out to be the key to a wonderful career for me. I got out of grad school and started my academic career just as the LGBTQ rights movement blossomed in the early 1990s. My economic training from studying race and sex discrimination turned out to be very useful for thinking about sexual orientation discrimination (and eventually gender identity discrimination). The stereotype of gays as an affluent minority was getting lots of play in the media and politics, but it made no sense to me. I ended up writing the first article on the gay wage gap published in economics (and other social sciences), and my research focus shifted at that point to LGBT issues. Studying LGBT people has given me a great angle into thinking about how gender and sexuality affect people's work experience and family life, and I've been able to work on many policy issues related to LGBT issues, like marriage equality and employment nondiscrimination laws.   

Read the rest of the article on our partner site, LGBTQ in Higher Education.