Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Business and Economics

Middle Managers in Banking: An Investigation of Gender Differences in Behavior, Demographics, and Productivity

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Business and Economics

Middle Managers in Banking: An Investigation of Gender Differences in Behavior, Demographics, and Productivity

Article excerpt


The persistence of the gender wage gap has been well-documented and widely discussed in both the academic literature and the popular media. Despite equal pay legislation and the increasing number of women in managerial positions, proportionately more women still are found at lower job and pay levels (Blau and Ferber, 1986). This paper examines the question of a gender wage gap in banking, concentrating on the characteristics of male and female middle managers in banking that may account for job and pay level differences between genders.

Banking is of particular interest because it is a classic example of an industry in which lower and middle level positions are dominated numerically by women while few top management positions are filled by women. EEOC (1990) statistics indicate that 83.7 percent of bank employees are women. While Buckwalter (1983) finds 45.6 percent of bank managers and officials to be female, only 4 percent of senior bank executives are women. Even though women have been reported to experience a glass ceiling in many organizations (Morrison, et al. 1987), one might presume that they would have more opportunities to move through middle management to top level jobs in female-dominated industries.

This study investigates whether women at the middle management level in banking are different from men with respect to demographics, job productivity, and behavioral factors, dimensions that influence career progress. An analysis of various factors affecting career advancement reveals differences with respect to a number of demographic measures such as age and marital status, productivity factors such as experience, education number of promotions, and behavioral factors such as attribution of success. Although male and female managers appear to have achieved parity in salaries, gender plays a significant role in salary determination when controlling for differences in productivity and behavioral factors.



Researchers in several disciplines have explored the relationship between productivity, behavioral factors, and the gender wage gap. Human capital studies have shown that gender earnings differences can be explained at least in part by weaker attachment to the labor force, lower productivity, and less investment in education on the part of women (Mincer and Polachek, 1974). A variety of research studies on women in banking supports the human capital model. Qualitative studies imply that the observed imbalance in wages is primarily a result of differences in education, professional commitment, and executive training (Buckwalter, 1983; Feldman, 1983; and Bryant, 1980). Shea (1988), however, finds that the banking industry imposes higher educational standards for women. Women are required to have more education to attain the same job level as their male counterparts.

Another factor that may contribute to lower earnings within the same occupation is unequal rates of promotion between genders. Recent empirical studies indicate that while the returns to promotions are equal for men and women (women receive the same salary for equal promotions), women seem to be held to higher promotion standards and receive less on-the-job training than men (Olson and Becker, 1983; Gronau, 1982; and Cannings, 1988b). In a comparison study of employees in a large and a small bank, White and Althauser (1984) find that promotions for men enable them to improve their skill levels by providing a variety of work experience, but that women's job shifts are primarily lateral or upward clerical moves. Similarly, Stewart and Gudykunst (1982) report that women's promotions may be of less magnitude than men's promotions. They find that men and women who reach similar levels in organizations differ in the number of promotions they receive; women are promoted more often.

Characteristics of the employing firm also may influence wage rates. …

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