FSD2796 Sexual Minorities at Work 2003

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  • Lehtonen, Jukka P. (University of Helsinki. Department of Behavioural Sciences)
  • Mustola, Kati (University of Helsinki. Department of Social Research)


bisexuality, career, discrimination, employees, equal opportunity, gender, homosexuality, labour and employment, minority groups, occupational life, sexual orientation, social inequality


Sexual Minorities at Work 2003 explored the work-related circumstances and experiences of sexual minorities in Finland. People belonging to sexual minorities were asked about their education, work history, workplace and its atmosphere, experiences of discrimination and openness about sexual orientation. The study was part of the EQUAL Initiative funded by the European Social Fund and Ministry of Employment, Finland whose aim was to chart and improve the labour market position of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people.

The respondents were first asked background information such as the orientation of their sexual feelings and thoughts, the orientation of their sexual behaviour, which definition they preferred to use of themselves, to whom they had told about their sexual orientation and how these people had reacted, and whether they had ever moved away from their place of residence because of its negative atmosphere toward sexual minorities.

The respondents were asked questions relating to their education and work history such as educational and career choices based on negative or positive attitudes toward sexual minorities in a certain field, total number of years in employment, job changes in the previous five years and whether job change had been affected by negative attitudes toward sexual minorities in the workplace. Relating to the current or latest job the respondents were asked, for example, how long they had had the job, whether they were working part time or full time, whether their contract was permanent or temporary, how many employees there were at the workplace and how many of them women, whether their immediate supervisor was a man or woman and how often they saw their co-workers during their leisure time.

Openness about sexual orientation and identity was charted with questions on whether there were other people belonging to sexual minorities at the workplace and whether it mattered to the respondents, how many co-workers and clients, students etc. knew of the respondents' orientation and how people at the workplace had found out about it.

Atmosphere at work was investigated with several questions relating to support received at work, expectations of others, conflicts or violence at the workplace, and bullying and harassment. Different kinds of work-related threats perceived by the respondents were examined as well as factors influencing their coping at work (e.g. strict/flexible gender roles, general atmosphere).

The final section of the questionnaire focused on discrimination at work. The questions covered discrimination of different groups at the workplace, the respondents' personal experiences of discrimination in different situations and readiness to contact different authorities in case of discrimination.

To enable comparisons, some of the questions are the same as in the Quality of work life surveys of Statistics Finland and the annual Finnish Working Life Barometers of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Finland. Background variables included, among others, the respondent's year of birth, gender, mother tongue, nationality, relationship status, province of residence and type of municipality of residence.

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