In this study, the author interviewed 49 self-identified masculine women in the United States to examine how they negotiate stigma in the workplace. Masculine women often negotiate dual stigmas due to both their gender nonconformity and perceived sexual orientation. Participants used a variety of strategies to cope with their stigmatized identity including modifying clothing; incorporating feminine behaviors to counteract masculine appearance; working in high-demand, undesirable jobs; working in male-dominated settings; and opting out of formal work organizations. While some participants experienced mistreatment in male-dominated settings, many reported positive outcomes including strong relationships with male coworkers, opportunities for advancement, and a general comfort in the work environment. Participants challenge Goffman’s notion of sexual orientation as a concealable status, showing that sexual orientation minority women who are gender nonconforming employ strategies similar to members of other visibly stigmatized groups. Findings from this study suggest that researchers addressing sexual orientation minorities should include gender expression as a variable that can influence individual experiences and outcomes. Online slides for instructors who want to use this article for teaching are available on PWQ’s website at http://journals.sagepub.com/page/pwq/suppl/index.
By Raine Dozier, 2017