Improving Measurement of Workplace Sexual Identity Management

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to advance measurement of sexual identity management for lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers. Psychometric properties of a revised version of the Workplace Sexual Identity Management Measure (WSIMM; Anderson, Croteau, Chung, & DiStefano, 2001) were examined on a sample of 64 predominantly White K-12 teachers. Reliability and validity data support the usefulness of the revised WSIMM for measuring sexual identity management. Additional research is needed to improve measurement of passing strategics and to further examine dimensionality of sexual identity management.

Workplace sexual identity management refers to actions lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) workers take to manage information concerning their sexual orientation. Such management has been identified as central to the work lives of LGB people, yet understanding of this important concept has been limited by inconsistent definitions and inadequate measurement (e.g., Croteau, 1996; Croteau, Anderson, DiStefano, & Kampa- Kokesch, 2000; Croteau, Anderson, & VanderWal, 2008; Lonborg & Phillips, 1996). Croteau et al. (2008) identified two distinct definitions of identity management in the literature that seem worthy of continued empirical and theoretical development. One promising focus, which they termed disclosure decisions, involves examining specific instances of disclosure (e.g., Creed & Scully, 2000; King, Reilly, & Hebl, 2008); the other, which they termed identity management, involves understanding the development and use of various strategies for revealing or concealing sexual orientation at work. The latter construct has been examined most frequently in the literature to date and is the focus of die present study.

Anderson, Croteau, Chung, and DiStefano (2001) developed the Workplace Sexual Identity Management Measure (WSIMM) to assess four identity management strategies identified by Griffin (1992) in a study of lesbian and gay teachers. Passing strategies involve actively creating an impression of being heterosexual, covering strategies involve concealing information that might reveal a same-sex orientation, implicitly out strategies involve being honest about personal information in ways that would allow others to infer one's minority sexual orientation, and explicitly out strategies involve being explicit about one's sexual orientation. The strategies are described as falling on a continuum from extreme concealment to actively revealing one's sexual orientation. Items on the WSIMM were written to capture the breadth of experiences LGB workers reported in existing qualitative research (e.g., Friskopp & Silverstein, 1995; Griffin, 1992; Hall, 1986; Olson, 1987; J. D. Woods, 1994; S. E. Woods & Harbeck, 1992).

Following initial development, Anderson et al. (2001) subjected the WSIMM to exploratory tactor analysis and psychometric evaluation with a sample of college and university student affairs professionals. Factor analyses suggested that covering and explicitly out items were performing as expected, whereas passing items were infrequently endorsed and implicitly out items split into two distinct groups. The Covering and Explicitly Out scales also yielded stronger reliability and validity data than did the Passing and Implicitly Out scales. From item-level data, the authors concluded that the Passing items had been inadequately tested because of the absence of any participants identifying as passing and that the split in the Implicitly Out scale may have been due to ambiguous wording. Overall, Anderson et al. concluded that these initial data provided evidence that the WSIMM assesses a continuum of identity management strategies, but that additional research is needed using a revision of the Implicitly Out scale and a sample that includes more variation in sexual identity management strategies. The purpose of the present study was to advance measurement of sexual identity management in ways consistent with these recommendations by further examining the psychometric properties of a revised version of the WSIMM with a sample of K-12 teachers. …


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