Gender Roles and Role Conflict in Feminist Lesbian and Heterosexual Women

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Thirty-nine lesbian and 39 heterosexual feminist women were compared on (1) gender role orientation; (2) intra- and interrole conflict in daughter, intimate partner, and work roles; and (3) satisfaction with interpersonal relationships with parents, intimate partners, and co-workers/employers. The majority were Caucasian and either graduate students or professionals. Contrary to theoretical assumptions, lesbians and heterosexual women did not differ in gender role orientation. Heterosexual women reported more interrole conflict between daughter and work roles; whereas lesbians reported more interrole conflict between daughter and intimate partner roles, primarily as a result of perceived disapproval of their intimate relationships by others. Lesbians additionally reported less satisfaction with their relationships with co-workers and employers. Role conflict/satisfaction was not a function of disclosure vs. nondisclosure of sexual orientation for the lesbian women.