The Work of Feminists is Not Yet Done: The Gender Pay Gap—a Stubborn Anachronism
- 7k Downloads
Lips (2012) critiques the literature, predominantly from the United States, to assess how well human capital theory explains the gender pay gap. Her analysis shows that human capital inputs are an imperfect explanation for the gap and that social psychological influences also provide key explanations. I comment on Lips’s paper using literature from the United States and other English-speaking highly developed countries and, to a lesser extent, from European countries. I elaborate and extend her position, promoting the argument for the effect of social influences and for their interactive and incremental effects. I place the phenomenon of the gender pay gap into a societal context. I borrow from the literature for the effect of gender discrimination on women’s advancement in management to discuss explanatory influences. I extend the inference that the gender pay gap supports and maintains the lesser status of women in society and that it helps to preserve the status quo with respect to gender roles. To explain the gender pay gap, I propose that the development of an integrated theoretical framework is needed. The framework would combine the direct and interactive influences of human capital and social psychological inputs, in the context of a cumulative, incremental pattern that occurs over a person’s working life.
KeywordsGender pay gap Gender discrimination Gender social roles Gender stereotypes Human capital Social influences Gender differences in advancement
- Blau, F. D., & Kahn, L. M. (2006). The U.S. gender pay gap in the 1990s: Slowing convergence. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 60, 45–66.Google Scholar
- Cornell Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (2010). Taking attitude into account for the gender wage gap: Compensating employees equally when gender role attitudes differ. Research Link. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgiarticle=1003&context=cahrs_researchlink
- Eagly, A. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: A social-role interpretation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007). Women and the labyrinth of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 9, 63–72.Google Scholar
- Equal Pay Act of 1973. (1973). Pub. L. No. 88–38 (codified at 29 U.S.C. 206(d)), amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.Google Scholar
- Even, W. E., & Macpherson, D. A. (2009). Gender differences in pensions. The Journal of Human Resources, 44, 555–587.Google Scholar
- General Accounting Office (2010, September 28). Women in management: Female managers’ representation, characteristic, and pay. Testimony of Andrew Sherrill, Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d101064t.pdf.
- Lips, H. (2012). The gender pay gap: Challenging the rationalizations: Perceived equity, discrimination, and the limits of human capital models. Sex Roles, this issue. doi: 10.1007/s11199-012-0165-z.
- OECD Social Policy Division. (2010). Gender brief. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/31/44720649.pdf.
- OECD Social Policy Division. (2011). Family database. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/29/63/38752746.pdf.
- Special Eurobarometer . (2009). Gender equality in the EU in 2009. Retrieved from: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_326_en.pdf.
- Tanglao, L. (2010, September 28). Gender pay gap report: Women managers still lag behind men. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/gender-pay-gap-women-lag-men/story?id=11742405
- Tharenou, P. (2005). Women’s advancement in management: What is known and future areas to address. In R. J. Burke & M. C. Mattis (Eds.), Supporting women’s career advancement (pp. 31–57). Cheltenham, UK: Edgar Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (1964). Pub. L. No. 88–352, Title VII (codified at 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.)Google Scholar
- U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2010). Women's earnings: Federal agencies should better monitor their performance in enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-799
- Weinnberger, C. J., & Kuhn, P. J. (2010). Changing levels or changing slopes: The narrowing of the gender gap 1959–1999. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 63, 384–405.Google Scholar