Effect of Pay Differential on Job Satisfaction: A Study of the Gender Gap

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Effect of Pay Differential on Job Satisfaction: A Study of the Gender Gap

This study investigates the differences in salary between male and female purchasing managers and the effect on their respective perceptions of job-related factors. A sample of 395 purchasing managers who were members of the National Association of Purchasing Management and who were from firms of all sizes participated in the study. The study found that female purchasing managers, as a group, had more negative perceptions of the job-related factors than did male purchasing managers. Specific differences are identified, and implications for management are developed.

BACKGROUND

The position of purchasing manager typically is dominated by males throughout the country. A survey conducted in 1984 reported that only 10 percent of the top positions were filled by women. Other surveys, conducted in 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988 reported that 21 percent, 21 percent, 8 percent, and 23 percent, respectively, of the positions were filled by women.[1] Surveys of salaries among purchasing managers have also been conducted each year since 1984. These surveys show a gender gap that, at times, has widened, but never narrowed.[2] In a recent study, Banting and Dion also found a difference in pay between males and females.[3] This discrepancy occurred despite the fact that there was no significant difference on any of the job performance variables measured (motivation, satisfaction, rewards, organizational characteristics, work environment, aptitudes, and performance expectations), with the exception of the promotion measure where males were higher.

Parasuraman examined job satisfaction in the field of purchasing and found that both men and women have a high level of job satisfaction.[4] In another study, the same researcher investigated purchasing managers' propensity to leave the field and its relationship to gender. He found that there was no significant differnce in propensity to leave the job between male and female purchasing managers.[5]

One study concerning saleswomen, found that even though females held only 20 percent of the positions nationwide, they were not subject to unfavorable stereo-types by the purchasing managers with whom they dealt. In fact, the purchasing professionals perceived women more favorably than men on the following attributes: (1) understanding of people, (2) friendliness, (3) regarded by the buyer as a person, (4) vigorous, (5) knows how to listen, (6) stability of judgment, (7) inquisitiveness, (8) confidence, (9) self-reliance, (10) preparation for sales presentations, and (11) follow-through.[6]

In a similar project, Norgaard studied problems and perspectives of female managers. He found that female managers frequently were regarded as tokens, and their opportunities for progress were limited. He concluded that this could be the reason for females behaving more aggressively in their jobs.[7] This reason was also cited in a separate research study for the result that showed a greater Machiavellian orientation by females.[8]

In summary, the limited research on female purchasing managers indicates that they are perceived favorably by those outside their company but not as favorably by internal management, since they are paid less and have limited promotion opportunities when compared with their male counterparts. Despite this, other research suggests that female purchasing professionals do not have a greater propensity to leave their jobs, nor do they exhibit lower job satisfaction or job performance. That this would be the case is counter-intuitive, and suggests the need for additional study in which all variables are studied simultaneously.

Consequently, the objective of this study was to investigate the actual differences in pay, and differences in satisfaction with the pay, between male and female purchasing managers. That is, is the gender gap accepted or is it a source of dissatisfaction? …