How lesbians learn to negotiate the heterosexism of corporate america

Julie A. Gedro*, Ronald M. Cervero, Juanita Johnson-Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to understand how lesbians learn to negotiate the heterosexism of corporate America. The sample consisted of ten women at the management or executive level who were over the age of 30, identified as lesbians, had worked in their organization for at least two years, had at least two people who report directly to them and had budget responsibility. The primary data collection strategy was in-depth interviews and data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Lesbians who have learned to negotiate the heterosexism of the corporate setting successfully have learned: a) to pre-screen individuals and groups for their receptivity toward the issue of lesbianism, b) to come out as individuals/lesbians in a strategic way, and c) to educate others about the unique issues that lesbians face in corporate settings. This learning occurred informally and incidentally through: a) dealing with human resources, b) participating in committees and groups, and c) participating in social/corporate events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult education
  • Corporate america
  • Gays and lesbians
  • Heterosexism
  • Homophobia
  • Informal and incidental learning
  • Lesbians
  • Sexual orientation


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