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Gender at Work

A Social Psychological Perspective


Melanie C. Steffens and Ma. Àngels Viladot

While many women receive equal education, such equality is nowhere in sight when it comes to women’s and men’s career success: men still earn significantly more than women and are more likely to be promoted. In this book, the authors offer a state of the art review of applied social-psychological research on gender at work, shedding light on all the different ways that work-related perceptions, attributions, outcomes, and the like differ for women and men. Focusing on domains (e.g., engineering) and positions (e.g., leadership) that are marked by women’s underrepresentation, the first part of the book looks at gender at work in terms of stereotypes, attitudes, and social roles, including parenthood, while the second part takes a social identity and communication perspective, exploring the situations in which men and women interact at work. Many chapters focus on applied questions, such as career choice, effects of role models, and sexual harassment at work. Theories and findings are applied to these topics, with conclusions and recommendations drawn throughout the book.
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Chapter 13. Conclusions


← 144 | 145 → ·13·

The gender pay gap is both a final practical topic to which the theories and findings from the first section of this book can be applied, and it is the first section of the conclusions: Many of the considerations brought up so far are mirrored in this chapter.

All over the world, women earn less than men (see Introduction). Why is this the case? As has become clear, lack of education is not a reason for this because women are highly qualified in North America and many European countries today, and in fact, women’s qualifications often exceed men’s. Then why does this investment in education pay off less well for women than for men? First, as mentioned earlier, choice of major may explain up to 20% of the gender pay gap (Schneeweis & Zweimüller, 2012). Women as compared to men choose majors and thus occupations that pay less on average. As such, this factor appears purely economical. For example, if you want your educational investment to pay off, it is better to invest in engineering than educational sciences, and men tend to make “better” choices in this regard. Conversely, social psychology comes into play: Salaries are lower in typically female than in typically male jobs, and if more women enter a field, over time, salaries drop (see Reskin & ← 145 | 146 → Bielby, 2005). In addition, men in typically female occupations earn more than their female colleagues on average (unless noted otherwise, these...

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