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Project Title: Professional and Sexual Identities in the Workplace
Students: Jacob Henicheck and Kyle Simon
Mentor: Dr. Melanie Henderson
How do members of sexual minority groups navigate identity in the workplace—such as being both openly gay and a working professional? This paper examines the psychological processes that underlie how individuals manage seemingly conflicting roles, sexual and professional identity, and how these processes affect social influence in the workplace. The literature on social identity integration has examined this construct as an individual difference in the extent to which social identities are viewed as harmonious or conflicting. While previous research has explored minority identities such as racial/ethnic and gender identity (Kenny & Briner, 2013; Sacharin, Lee & Gonzalez, 2009) within the workforce, less attention has been paid to the intersection of sexual and professional identity (Lonborg & Phillips, 1996; Chrobot-Mason, Button, & DiClementi, 2002). The current study aims to expand the literature at the intersection of sexual and professional identity in order to better examine how individuals manage potential conflict between these identities. The addition of sexual identity, an invisible minority, only heightens the relevance to identity management, given that members of this group are at a significantly higher risk for workplace discrimination than their heterosexual counterparts (Ragins, Singh & Cornwell, 2007). This study will use a correlational design to examine how identity integration (II)—individual differences in perceived compatibility between sexual and professional identities—affects the use of social power and leadership strategies, as well as other management strategies. We hypothesize that individuals who are higher in II will be more likely to incorporate relational strategies while navigating social influence in the workplace, while those with lower II will be more likely to rely on independent strategies to navigate social influence.