Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Influence of Age and Type of Job on Gender Differences in Pay Expectations

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Influence of Age and Type of Job on Gender Differences in Pay Expectations

Article excerpt

This study examined the extent to which gender and type of job influenced pay expectations in elementary school, secondary school, and college students. Participants were presented with a list of 12 jobs evenly divided between primarily female, primarily male, and gender neutral occupations. Using a relative rating scale, participants were asked to indicate how much they should make if they were in the occupation. A significant interaction was found between type of job and gender for pay expectations. Suggestions for using this information in applied settings are provided.

It is widely known that pay inequality exists between men and women in the U.S. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996). In 1990, women's earnings as a percentage of men's were 76.6% for weekly earnings and 68.2% for hourly earnings (Davidson & Cooper,1992). Although the data presented by the Bureau of the Census and by Davidson and Cooper indicate this inequity is slowly shrinking, it remains a sizable difference. A number of reasons for gender differences in pay have been suggested, including gender differences in the value of monetary rewards (Major & Konar, 1984; Martin, 1989; Nieva & Gutek, 1981), gender differences in job performance (Jackson, Gardner, & Sullivan, 1992; Major & Konar, 1984), the presence of discrimination in the workplace (Major & Konar,1984; Rhoads,1993), and gender differences in pay expectations (Jackson et al., 1992; Major, 1989; Major & Konar, 1984; Martin, 1989). The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of age and type of job on gender differences in personal pay expectations. Major, Vanderslice, and McFarlin (1984) have shown the importance of pay expectations on actual outcome during salary negotiations. They reported that applicants who initially asked for a lower starting salary in a simulated interview were indeed offered lower pay. They concluded that a consequence of lower pay expectations is lower offers of initial pay. Because later career salary is based on a compounding of starting salary in many jobs, it has been suggested that a portion of the wage gap is due to lower initial offers to women (McFarlin, Frone, Major, & Konar, 1989).

Despite the importance of pay expectations for understanding gender differences in pay, few studies have investigated this variable. Major and Konar (1984) developed a five-factor model to explain the gender difference in pay expectations. They conducted a mail survey of graduating management students and found support for their model. Martin (1989) also used a mailed survey sent to graduating management students. She found that providing all survey respondents with information regarding mean salary offers and the range of salary offers did not influence the gender difference in pay expectations. To further examine three factors from the Major and Konar (1984) model, McFarlin et al. (1989) sent a mailed survey to undergraduate management majors and students in an MBA program. McFarlin et al. found that men and women used different referent groups when making comparisons for pay expectations. Men tend to favor making comparisons based on other (more highly paid) men, and women tend to favor making comparisons based on other (less highly paid) women, thus perpetuating the cycle of gender differences in pay expectations. Bylsma and Major (1992) experimentally investigated the influence of the presence or absence of social comparison standards and performance feedback during a job on gender differences in pay expectations. They found a gender difference in reported pay expectations for hourly wage. A final study by Jackson et al. (1992) relied on mailed surveys to graduating students. In this study, the students came from five basic academic colleges. Jackson et al. found that men had higher pay expectations at career entry than did women for three of the colleges they investigated; however, for the agriculture and social science colleges, women had higher pay expectations. …

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