Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Gender Equity in the Context of Organizational Justice: A Closer Look at a Reoccurring Issue in the Field

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Gender Equity in the Context of Organizational Justice: A Closer Look at a Reoccurring Issue in the Field

Article excerpt

"The single most important event in the American labor market in the twentieth century has been the unprecedented entry of large numbers of women into the workforce" (Gini, 1998, p. 3). A great deal of attention has been given to the topic of gender diversity in the workplace, as both academicians and managers confront the challenges associated with an increasingly diverse workforce. Increased gender diversity influences many aspects of management and as a result, the literature includes a large number of areas of inquiry including the impact of diversity on communication, problem-solving, job commitment, and job satisfaction (Baugher, Varanelli, & Weisbord, 2000). Many authors have suggested that gender diversity can provide organizational benefits, such as greater creativity in group decision making and improved task performance (Cox & Blake, 1991; Nemeth, 1986; Shaw, 1983). However, another area of research focuses on the difficulty that organizations have in providing equitable treatment to diverse groups of people with unique needs. Some of the reasons given for the difficulty of integrating women range from the integration and acceptance of women into workgroups (Fagenson, 1993; Tsui, Egan, & O'Reilly, 1992) to the conflicts faced by managers who must balance diversity objectives against resource constraints (Barry & Bateman, 1996). In general, much of this research paints a fairly negative portrait of organizations' handling of gender diversity.

A similar scenario is evident in the leisure services field. Several studies have been conducted regarding the status of women in leisure service agencies (Allison, 1999; Anderson & Shinew, 2001; Frisby, 1992; Henderson & Bialeschki, 1995; Shinew & Arnold, 1998) and much of this research has indicated that women perceive inequity and discrimination in the workplace, and that women are often under-represented in higher levels of management. Given these recent findings, we felt the issue of gender equity deserved closer attention. Thus, the purpose of the current study was to examine gender equity under the framework of organizational justice. More specifically, we applied three forms of organizational justice to responses given to questions about gender equity. The findings are based on an earlier nationwide study of women and men working in public recreation agencies (Anderson & Shinew, 2001).

Organizational Justice

Fair and equitable treatment is a primary concern for most employees (Sheppard, Lewicki, & Minton, 1992). Research has indicated that employees often identify justice-related issues (e.g., inequitable administration of rewards, unfair evaluations) as sources of conflict between them and their supervisors. Moreover, several studies have indicated that positive justice perceptions lead to more cooperative behaviors among employees. For example, Moorman (1991) found that employees who perceived greater levels of justice generally engaged in more organizational citizenship behavior. Thus, the literature suggests that greater levels of perceived justice are generally related to more positive work attitudes and behaviors (Rahim, Magner, & Shapiro, 2000).

Three forms of organizational justice have been identified in the literature (Rahim et al., 2000). Initially, justice scholars focused on people's reactions to the perceived fairness of the outcomes they received, or distributive justice (Greenberg, 1982). Equity theory (Adams, 1965) guided this outcome-oriented viewpoint. "An important criterion for distributive justice in an organizational setting is equity, which relates to whether employees believe the outcomes (e.g., pay distributions) they have received are in accord with their contributions to the organization" (e.g., Adams, 1965) (Rahim et al., 2000, p. 13). Adams argued that social behavior is affected profoundly by the belief that the allocation of benefits and costs should be equitable, and that they should be proportional to the contributions of the individual. …

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