Sex Roles

, Volume 68, Issue 3–4, pp 223–230

Acknowledging Discrimination as a Key to the Gender Pay Gap

Feminist Forum

Abstract

I comment again on issues raised in my initial paper in this issue (Lips 2012, this issue) and respond to commentaries by Huffman (2012, this issue), Olson (2012), Stockdale and Nadler (2012) and Tharenou (2012). Even in the light of a large and growing body of evidence for the gender pay gap, a lack of awareness of the gap still exists. This lack of awareness may have roots in system-justification beliefs. Such beliefs can be reinforced by a human capital approach, which may appear to rationalize the gender pay gap by attributing it mainly to the choices individuals make, while downplaying the role of discrimination. Although, as commentators on my original article have pointed out, some researchers who use this model may be aware of its limitations, and some may have moved beyond it because of its limitations, such limitations may not be so obvious to consumers of the research. Thus, a continuing, careful critique of the human capital model, and attention to the impact of cultural gender stereotypes on the variables it encompasses, is warranted. However, as several commentators have also noted, there are other useful ways of analyzing the gender pay gap, such as focusing on institutional variables associated with it or examining it from the perspective of cumulative disadvantage. These too should also be vigorously pursued in the service of understanding and eliminating the gap.

Keywords

Gender pay gap Gender discrimination Gender stereotypes Human capital 

References

  1. Agars, M. D. (2004). Reconsidering the impact of gender stereotypes on the advancement of women in organizations. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 103–111. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2004.00127.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alksnis, C., Demarais, S., & Curtis, J. (2008). Workforce segregation and the gender wage gap: Is “women’s” work valued as highly as “men’s”? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38, 1416–1441. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00354.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appleby, J. M. (2012, September 18). Is there equal pay in healthcare? Not if you are a doctor. British Medical Journal, 345, e6191. doi:10.1136/bmj.e6191. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/press-releases/2012/09/18/average-25-pay-gap-between-men-and-women-doctors-largely-%E2%80%98inexplicable%E2%80%99
  4. Babcock, L., & Laschever, S. (2003). Women don’t ask. Negotiation and the gender divide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bergson, H. (1965). Duration and simultaneity: With reference to Einstein’s theory. (L. Jacobson, Trans.). Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. (Originally published 1922).Google Scholar
  6. Blank, R. M. (2005). Tracing the economic impact of cumulative discrimination. The American Economic Review, 95, 99–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blank, R. M., Dabaddy, M., & Citro, C. F. (2004). Measuring racial discrimination. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  8. Blanton, H., Cooper, J., Skurnik, I., & Aronson, J. (1997). When bad things happen to good feedback: Exacerbating the need for self-justification with self-affirmations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 684–692. doi:10.1177/0146167297237002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Catalyst (2007). The bottom line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards. Retrieved from http://www.catalyst.org/file/139/bottom%20line%202.pdf
  10. Cohen, P. N. (2012, September 29). Debunking the end of men, “Myth of male decline” edition. Web log post. Retrieved from http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/debunking-end-of-men-myth-of-male-decline-edition/
  11. CONSAD Research Corporation (2009). An analysis of the reasons for the disparity in wages between men and women. Final Report. Retrieved from http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20Final%20Report.pdf
  12. Corbett, C., & Hill, C. (2012). Graduating to a pay gap: The earnings of women and men one year after college graduation. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.Google Scholar
  13. Crosby, F. (1982). Relative deprivation and working women. Oxford: New York.Google Scholar
  14. Crosby, F. (1984). The denial of personal discrimination. American Behavioral Scientist, 27, 371–386. doi:10.1177/000276484027003008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2007, September). Women and the labyrinth of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 64–71.Google Scholar
  16. Eliezer, D., & Major, B. (2012). It’s not your fault: The social costs of claiming discrimination on behalf of someone else. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 15, 487–502. doi:10.1177/1368430211432894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Equality and Human Rights Commission (2009). Financial Services Inquiry. Sex discrimination and gender pay gap report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Retrieved from http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/financial_services_inquiry_report.pdf
  18. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Folbre, N. (2012, June 25). Paycheck fairness and market failure. The New York Times online. Retrieved from http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/25/paycheck-fairness-and-market-failure/
  20. Furnham, A., & Procter, E. (1989). Belief in a just world: Review and critique of the individual difference literature. British Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 365–384. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8309.1989.tb00880.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goethals, G. R. (1992). Dissonance and self-justification. Psychological Inquiry, 3, 327–329. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli0304_7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hausmann, R., Tyson, L. D., & Zahidi, S. (2012). The global gender gap report 2012. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap
  23. Hinz, L. (2006, Spring/Summer). IWPR leads the fight to save data on women workers! Institute for Women’s Policy Research Quarterly Newsletter, 4. Retrieved from http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/iwpr-newsletter-spring-summer-2006
  24. Huffman, M. (2012). Organizations, managers, and wage inequality. Sex Roles. this issue. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0240-5
  25. Jagsi, R., Griffith, K. A., Stewart, A., Sambuco, D., DeCastro, R., & Ubel, P. A. (2012). Gender differences in the salaries of physician researchers. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307, 2410–2417. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8309.1994.tb01008.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jost, J. T., & Hunyady, O. (2002). The psychology of system justification and the palliative function of ideology. European Review of Social Psychology, 13, 111–153. doi:10.1080/10463280240000046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kaiser, C. R., & Miller, C. T. (2001). Stop complaining! The social costs of making attributions to discriminiation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 254–263. doi:10.1177/0146167201272010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim, S. M. (2012, June 5). Paycheck Fairness Act fails to advance in Senate. Politico.com. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77069.html
  30. Kleugel, J. R., & Smith, E. R. (1986). Beliefs about inequality: Americans’ view of what is and what ought to be. Hawthorne, NJ: Aldine de Gruyer.Google Scholar
  31. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 127 S.Ct. 2162, 2181 (2007). Retrieved from http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1490360091599190176&hl=en&as_sdt=2,47&as_vis=1
  32. Lerner, M. J. (1965). Evaluation of performance as a function of performer’s reward and attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 355–360. doi:10.1037/h0021806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lerner, M. J. (1977). The justice motive: Some hypotheses as to its origins and forms. Journal of Personality, 45, 1–52. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1977.tb00591.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lerner, M. J. (1980). The belief in a just world: A fundamental delusion. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  35. Lips, H. M. (2012). The gender pay gap: Challenging the rationalizations, perceived equity, discrimination, and the limits of human capital models. Sex Roles, this issue. doi:10.007/s11199-012-0165-z.
  36. Lorinda, R. (2012, February 1). DOL creates software development challenge to raise gender pay gap awareness. Recruiter.com. Retrieved from http://www.recruiter.com/i/dol-creates-software-development-challenge-to-raise-gender-pay-gap-awareness/
  37. Martell, R. F., Lane, D. M., & Emrich, C. (1996). Male-female differences: A computer simulation. American Psychologist, 51, 157–158. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.51.2.157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mataconis, D. (2012, June6). Explaining what’s wrong with the Paycheck Fairness Act. Outside the Beltway. Retrieved from http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/explaining-whats-wrong-with-the-paycheck-fairness-act/
  39. McKinsey & Company (2010). Women Matter 2010. Women at the top of corporations: making it happen. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/locations/paris/home/womenmatter/pdfs/Women_matter_oct2010_english.pdf
  40. Meyer, W. (2012, February 9). Understanding the global warming debate. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/09/understanding-the-global-warming-debate/
  41. Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J. (2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. PNAS, 109, 16474–16479. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211286109.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. NOW opposes “disappearing” of women workers in data collection (2005, October 12). Retrieved from http://www.now.org/issues/economic/101205laborstats.html
  43. NZICA call on employers to tackle the gender pay gap. (2012, August). Retrieved from http://www.nzica.com/News/Archive/2012/August/NZICA-calls-on-employers-to-tackle-the-gender-pay-gap.aspx
  44. O’Brien, L. T., & Major, B. (2005). System-justifying beliefs and psychological well-being: The roles of group status and identity. Personality and social Psychology Bulletin, 12, 1718–1729. doi:10.1177/0146167205278261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Olson, J. E. (2012). Human capital models and the gender pay gap. Sex Roles, this issue. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0208-5.
  46. Paycheck Fairness Act, S. 3220, 112th Cong. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/s3220
  47. Perlberg, H. (2012, July 31). Stocks perform better if women are on company boards. Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-31/women-as-directors-beat-men-only-boards-in-company-stock-return.html
  48. Pynchon, V. (2012, October 1). Why we assume the pay gap doesn’t apply to us. Forbes.com. Retrived from http://www.forbes.com/sites/shenegotiates/2012/10/01/is-it-crazy-to-assume-the-pay-gap-doesnt-apply-to-us/
  49. Robbins, S. E. (2007). Time, form and the limits of qualia. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 28, 19–44.Google Scholar
  50. Roth, L. M. (2006). Selling women short: Gender inequality on Wall Street. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Ryan, C. (2012). Field of degree and earning by selected employment characteristics: 2011. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/acsbr11-10.pdf
  52. Stockdale, M. S., & Nadler, J. T. (2012). Paradigmatic assumptions of disciplinary research on gender disparities: The case of occupational sex segregation. Sex Roles, this issue. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0228-1.
  53. Swim, J. K., Aikin, K. J., Hall, W. S., & Hunter, B. A. (1995). Sexism and racism: Old-fashioned and modern prejudices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 199–214. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.68.2.199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tharenou, P. (2012). The work of feminists is not yet done: The gender pay gap—a stubborn anachronism. Sex Roles, this issue. doi:10.1007/s11199-012-0221-8.
  55. Tozzi, J. (2012, October 5). Women help startups succeed. When will VCs notice? Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-05/women-help-startups-succeed-dot-when-will-vcs-notice
  56. U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012). The Equal Pay Act of 1963. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm
  57. Walster, E., & Walster, G. W. (1975). Equity and social justice. Journal of Social Issues, 31, 21–43.Google Scholar
  58. Wigmore, B. (2007, September 13). Global warming? It’s natural, say experts. Daily Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-481613/Global-warming-Its-natural-say-experts.html
  59. Worstall, T. (2012, August 16). The gender pay gap is just so over. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/08/16/the-gender-pay-gap-is-just-so-over/

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and the Center for Gender StudiesRadford UniversityRadfordUSA

Personalised recommendations