Women Have Greater Job Satisfaction Than Men Essay

As women’s participation in the workforce steadily increases, so to has the amount of literature examining women’s attitudes towards employment and more specifically job satisfaction. This paper considers the proposition that women experience higher levels of job satisfaction than their male counterparts. It explains some of the inconsistencies surrounding previous research by highlighting important job aspects in relation to gender while accounting for varying occupational levels, education and employment status. The essay is divided into three parts, firstly evidence is provided in support of the proposition using two main arguments.

Following is evidence in opposition, this to will involve two lines of argument. The third part of the essay provides a neutral perspective on the subject offering an international point of view. The essay concludes that it is not gender itself but the factors behind gender that influence job satisfaction. The evidence in favour of greater job satisfaction levels amongst women falls into two categories: Firstly, their job expectations and secondly, the type of employment they choose, in this case temporary agency employment.

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Clark (1997) supports the proposition by suggesting that those who expect less from their work will be satisfied with any given job. This can be attributed to the fact that women’s jobs are regarded as inferior as a result of job content, limited promotional opportunities, attitudes towards sexual harassment, lower pay and working conditions. The poor labour market position previously held by women also contributes to their low expectations and it would be of interest to carry out further research to determine whether women’s expectations would differed if they were exposed to a greater level of labour market experience.

Clark (1997) highlighted salary as being one of the most consistent findings, describing a sizable difference between the pay of men compared to that of women. It is clear that as the differential characteristics of men’s and women’s jobs narrow, so to will the level of expectation between genders leading toward similar levels of job satisfaction. The second category in support of the proposition considers employment type, especially temporary agency employment as this area has experienced enormous growth in the past two decades and now accounts for approximately six ercent of the labour force in both Australia and the United States (Burgess, Rasmussen, & Connell, 2004). Research conducted by Alentaris (2010) indicates that while men have lower job satisfaction levels when they are employed through a temporary agency than when they are not, women are just as satisfied with agency work as other women. This could be attributed to different aspects of agency work that effect women differently to men. Wages are one example of these varying aspects as women’s attitudes toward higher wages may differ in relation to those of men.

It could be assumed that an increase in wages would equate to an increase in job satisfaction but this may not necessarily be true, as women may be dissatisfied with the characteristics of jobs that provide higher wages, for example bureaucracy, and therefore opt for temporary employment to avoid such characteristics. Stress could be another aspect to consider as women may choose less stressful roles in return for lesser wages. Finally, males may value their jobs more than women; this could lead to greater job dissatisfaction given the nature of temporary employment.

Contrary to the above, evidence against the proposition can be divided into two main categories, firstly, women and prestigious careers, and secondly, women and their attitudes towards job characteristics. Earlier studies have indicated that women with prestigious careers experience higher levels of job satisfaction (Weaver, 1977). As high status positions carry power, people are more likely to share power with those they trust, hence there is a greater chance that men and women would be similar and carry similar expectations at the top of the occupational spectrum than the bottom.

Research conducted by Chiu (1998) analysed a sample of three hundred and twenty-six lawyers, concluding that women experienced lower levels of job satisfaction than men. Four specific factors related to job satisfaction were attributed to these findings, these included; promotional opportunity, financial rewards, non-competitive atmosphere and time. Of these the most important was considered to be financial reward as it is often reported that women have lower job expectations and therefore accept lower salaries than men.

This study raises an important question, if men’s job satisfaction levels are higher relative to higher occupation levels and women’s job satisfaction levels are lower at lower occupation levels is the outcome due to variations in expectations? This most certainly paves the way for future research into this area of gender and job satisfaction. Secondly, there is evidence to suggest that education is a significant factor influencing women’s levels of job satisfaction. This view was tested using young, recent university graduates in Catalonia with findings that supported the hypothesis.

In areas such as job security, promotional possibilities and earnings women were found to have lower job satisfaction levels than men. This could be as a result of two factors. Firstly, men and women have different personality traits, experiences and expectations and it is safe to assume that the manner in which women and men transform their objective situations, in this case their jobs, into a subjective evaluation, represented by there level of job satisfaction can vary between the genders.

Secondly, the assumption could be made that women and men have different types of jobs and that general consensus suggests women’s jobs show a relationship with reduced levels of job satisfaction, that is they are of a lesser quality. Mora and Ferrer-i-Carbonell (2009) suggests that as previous studies have highlighted that the job satisfaction gender gap occurred as a result of lower female job expectations, young highly educated women tend to have higher expectations than samples from the general population.

The third section of this paper examines national differences; in particular how women’s attitudes towards job satisfaction differ according their culture and geographical location. The United States and Britain have been the focus of many studies with their findings considered a result of differing work role inputs and outputs, often referred to as “The Anglo Saxon phenomenon” (Sousa-Poza & Sousa-Poza, 2000 p. 138). Research conducted by Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza (2000) set out to establish whether these findings were international or confined only to the United States and Britain.

The research concluded that of the twenty-one countries surveyed a majority recorded no gender/job satisfaction paradox with only four countries recording a differential greater than four percent. Three of the four countries recorded differentials in favour of women, with both the United States and Great Britain included, possibly supporting “The Anglo Saxon phenomenon”. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is the higher work-role outputs of women in these countries compared to men.

In addition, in all four of these countries men display higher work-role inputs than women. On the basis of this evidence I conclude that there are numerous complexities in the debate over job satisfaction and gender. So much so that it is not gender itself but the factors behind gender that influence job satisfaction. The cases presented in this essay provide clear evidence in support of the argument given that so much emphasis is placed upon job expectations, in particular the level of expectation.

It is also important to consider prestige and education when investigating the gender gaps in job satisfaction as attitudes change depending on ones education and position in the labour market. Finally, it is also important to take into account global diversity as outcomes can differ relative to cultural and geographic influences. References Aletraris, L. (2010). How satisfied are they and why? A study of job satisfaction, job rewards, gender and temporary agency workers in Australia.

Human Relations, Forthcoming, 1-27. Burgess, J. , Rasmussen, E. , & Connell, J. (2004). Temporary agency work in Australia and New Zealand: Out of sight and outside the regulatory net. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 29(3), 25-36. Chiu, C. (1998). Do professional women have lower job satisfaction than professional men? Lawers as a case study. Sex Roles, 38, 521-537. Clark, A. E. (1997). Job satisfaction and gender: Why are women so happy at work? Labour Economics, 4, 341-372. Mora, T. & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2009). The job satisfaction gender gap amoung young recent university graduates: Evidence from Catalonia. The journal of Socio-Econamics, 38, 581-589. Sousa-Poza, A. , & Sousa-Poza, A. A. (2000). Taking another look at the gender/job satisfaction paradox. Kyklos, 53(2), 135-152. Weaver, C. N. (1977). Relationships amoung pay, race, gender, occupational prestige, supervision, work autonomy and job satisfaction in a national sample. . Personnel Psychology, 30, 437-445.


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