The Gender Pay Gap: Challenging the Rationalizations. Perceived Equity, Discrimination, and the Limits of Human Capital Models

The Gender Pay Gap: Challenging the Rationalizations. Perceived Equity, Discrimination, and the... A gender gap in earnings has proven both persistent and universal. This paper relies mainly on U.S. data, but a gap between women’s and men’s earnings exists in every country. There is a continuing debate as to the extent to which the gap reflects merely the inevitable and reasonably fair result of differing work patterns and behaviors by women and men or the impact of employment discrimination against women. The human capital approach, in which various explanatory variables are used to shrink the perceived size of the gap, is often used to argue that much of the gap is due, not to discrimination, but to differing investments in employment by women and men. However, neither “investments” nor “outcomes” can be assessed in gender-neutral ways and the model’s underlying notion of rational choices made against the backdrop of a gender-neutral playing field is flawed. Discrimination appears to be entwined with gendered work patterns and behaviors; many of the human capital “explanatory” variables themselves require explanation. Understanding the gap requires recognition of the limitations of human capital models, and a willingness both to take a more sophisticated approach to such models, and to think beyond this approach. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

The Gender Pay Gap: Challenging the Rationalizations. Perceived Equity, Discrimination, and the Limits of Human Capital Models

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11199-012-0165-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

A gender gap in earnings has proven both persistent and universal. This paper relies mainly on U.S. data, but a gap between women’s and men’s earnings exists in every country. There is a continuing debate as to the extent to which the gap reflects merely the inevitable and reasonably fair result of differing work patterns and behaviors by women and men or the impact of employment discrimination against women. The human capital approach, in which various explanatory variables are used to shrink the perceived size of the gap, is often used to argue that much of the gap is due, not to discrimination, but to differing investments in employment by women and men. However, neither “investments” nor “outcomes” can be assessed in gender-neutral ways and the model’s underlying notion of rational choices made against the backdrop of a gender-neutral playing field is flawed. Discrimination appears to be entwined with gendered work patterns and behaviors; many of the human capital “explanatory” variables themselves require explanation. Understanding the gap requires recognition of the limitations of human capital models, and a willingness both to take a more sophisticated approach to such models, and to think beyond this approach.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 26, 2012

References

  • Gender differences in CEO compensation: evidence from the USA
    Adams, SM; Gupta, A; Haughton, DM; Leeth, JD
  • Parental leave of absence: Some not so family-friendly implications
    Allen, TD; Russell, JEA
  • Are organizations shooting themselves in the foot? Workplace contributors to family-to-work conflict
    Beauregard, TA
  • Direct and indirect links between organizational work–home culture and employee well-being
    Beauregard, TA

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