Gender Pay Inequality

Master Thesis

Presented to the Faculty of

The College of Professional Studies

Department of Leadership and Human Resource Management

National University

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements

For the Degree of

Master of Arts in Human Resource Management


Dominique W

December 2019


All rights reserved. This dissertation or any segment thereof may not be used or replicated without the written consent of the publisher, except for the use of brief quotations in literature reviews and academic papers.

© 2019

by Dominique W

All Rights Reserved


I would like to thank the almighty God for giving me the energy and intellect to explore this study subject. I would also like to express my gratitude to my professors and my family for making the completion of this study possible.



Equality is integral since it ensures workers are recognized for their input rather than being part of a majority group in the workplace setting. Although gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and nationality are aspects that propagate discrimination, the implementation of affirmative action and related policies promote equal opportunities for all. The fight for gender equality has prompted many scholars to explore national and international dynamics pertaining to the subject. This research addresses the question why do female employees who have similar credentials earn relatively lower wages than their male counterparts? The current study strives to reveal different components that contribute to the notable pay gap. Different data based on qualitative, and quantitative research is used to examine factors contributing to the pay gap, exploring effective solutions to the predicament, and determining the feasibility of current stratagems. Principally, the current study is based on survey findings.

Keywordsgender, pay disparity, sexual orientation, discrimination, and equality.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

In the contemporary setting, researchers have determined that payment inequality is still a looming problem facing female workers. Scholars argue to what extent, but in doing so, they are missing the idea that such a problem should be non-existent in the current age (Amanatullah & Morris, 2010). The emphasis should be on the fact that female workers are entitled to equal compensation as their male counterparts (Labaton, 2014). The far-reaching ramification of the pay disparity has prompted researchers to explore the issue in depth (McElhaney & Smith, 2017). Universal gender gap records suggest that it will take about eight years for effective harmonization of remuneration to occur (Bekhouche et al., 2014). In the study conducted by Bekhouche et al., (2014), over a hundred countries were surveyed, America was rated sixty-fifth in the list on issues concerning gender payment inequality. Though nations like Israel and Italy do provide equal chances for females, they were the bottom-ranked nations in matters concerning gender payment inequalities (Saul, 2003). Female workers in Italy are given forty-eight percent of male’s income for completing the same task. On the other hand, female employees in Israel are paid a mere forty-seven percent of the men’s salary (Bekhouche et al., 2014). Principally, the data denotes that despite the significant strides made to consolidate the rights of both male and female subsets of the populace, pay disparities along gender lines are still common. Furthermore, university enrollment has been improved, therefore, nothing should justify gender payment inequality in the contemporary business setup (Carnevale et al., 2014). The current study explores the issue of income inequality and proposes solutions to the crisis.

Background Information

The United States has had a relatively constant gender payment gap until the early 1980s when the constriction in the gap was noted. The shift can be attributed to the continuous rise in enrollment of women in STEM disciplines, enhanced matching, and a positive selection process (Estrin, Stephen, & Vujic, 2014, p.5; Avitzur, 2016). Hughes (2002) has attributed the narrowing pay gap to the shift in trends pertaining to university attendance. Nonetheless, current interventions have proved futile since the problem remains widespread (Hughes, 2002). The global economic forum details that female workers in America are paid less as compared to their male counterparts. The trend is consistent with the findings presented for the United Kingdom and Europe (U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Stephen, Estrin, and Vujic (2014) assert that the “college-high school gender payment gap” has remained at forty percent over the last three decades. Comment by Author: There is no referenc list item that staratw with Estrin Double check this link at OWL Purdue

Earning disparities between men and women stem from a myriad of factors. According to Auster (1989), the pay gap stems from segregation on the basis of gender. In modern-day human resource settings, discrimination has been demonstrated in the hiring, firing, job allocation, and promoting processes (Meara, Pastore, & Webster, 2020). The failure to accord women equal opportunities as their female counterparts results in career stagnation for women (Petrzelka, 2005). Mandel and Semnyonov (2005) assert that the gender pay gap correlates with structural features of the labor market, particularly, with the regulations of the market.

Although contemporary activists advocating for gender equality have postulated that becoming a mother does not hinder the productivity of female workers, motherhood has been used by conservative human resource managers to justify gender payment inequality (Aly, 2017). The misguided frameworks adopted by discriminatory human resource departments explain why male employees receive higher pay than their female counterparts for doing similar tasks (illy Comment by Author: Looks like major typo here. Probably supposed to be Nelson & Lorence (1988)

& Lorence, 1988). Stone (2007) argues that since tasks are always structured around gender norms and most nations demonstrate patriarchy, the male gender is at an advantage (Stone, 2007). The polarity of opinion regarding factors that propagate the gender pay gap extends to encompass stances such as childbearing and differences in personality.

Principally, justifying the payment gap between sexes by the unique attributes of the female gender is irrational since not all women choose to be mothers (Aly, 2017). Gender payment inequalities vary across age brackets as demystified by the fact that the gap is more significant between older employees than new entrants. Aly (2017), in her findings, contents that female workers aged twenty to twenty-four get about ninety-six percent of the salary received by their male counterparts. As female employees get older, and since their career development is dwarfed, their median wage increases at a slower rate as compared to the males’ median wage. By the age of sixty-four, female workers receive a seventy-four percent salary of the male’s average salary (Aly, 2017). According to the Universal Development Report (2012), the reasons why female workers get fewer wages than their male counterparts stem from differences in job characteristics and work. The data elicits questions because it clearly shows gender payment inequalities. Besides, if female workers are qualified for the same job as their male counterparts, then it is only rational that they get equal pay.

According to Labaton (2014), the gender pay gap is also propagated by misguiged or mythiological claims that women are just in occupations that pay poorly. The assertion implies that if women are moved to better occupations, the gender pay gap is bound to be eliminated. However, the statemement is fallacious since the Labaton (2014), has determined that the gender pay gap is even wider in fields where remuneration is high. For instance, female workers in financial spealist positions earn 66 percent of their male counterpart salaries and female doctors 71 percent of the salaries received by male doctors. Furthermore, female lawyers are paid about 82 percent of the payment received by their male counterparts in the field. Even in fields that are dominated by women; education and social works, men, especially white males, are paid considerably more than their female counterparts (Labaton, 2014).

Waxman (2018), further expores the mythiology surrounding the gender pay gap by exploring the argument that women are not entitled to higher pays because they work to earn “pin money.” “Pin money” is a historical term that meant money that women earn or is set aside by married men to allow women to buy “hairpins” and enjoy simple pleasures. The kinds of jobs that women took to earn “pin money” include taking sewing lessons and arranging flowers for wedding ceremonies. Waxman (2018) argues that even if the concept of “pin money” represented the choices of some women in the twenthieth century, the notion cannot hold in the contemporary setting. The volume of women who are either breadwinners or co-breadwinners in today’s society has soared. In the statistical sense, 49.4% of all families in the United States that have kids under the age or 18 years have a breadwinner mother. Even in married couples, women who contribute about 40% to the household earming is 36.3%. In this regard, women have responsibilities that have necessitated earning extra money.

Waxman (2018) posits that the notion that women earn lower salaries because they do not negotiate is misguided. The idea dates back to 1910, and the idea is centered around the notion that it would be illogical to give women a salary raise, if they are not asking for it (Babcock & Laschever, 2009). The reality of the matter, according to Waxman (2018), women are penalized for negotiating for a raise. Also, according to empirical studies cited by Waxman (2018), women who still negotiate for salary increase do not get compensated as their male counterparts. A study conducted by the Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University found that women were penalized more than their male counterparts for initiating negotiations (Waxman, 2018). Although other myths invoke the biological difference between men and women to justify the gender pay gap, some studies have been refuted and challenged by scholars that have proved the the performance of an employee is not dependent on gender (Labaton, 2014). In this accord, there is not justificable reason as to why women who are equally qualified and trained should receive lower pay just because they are women.

Problem Statement

Polacheck (2004), in her research regarding the issues of gender pay inequality, suggested that despite the development in the community concerning rights and social equality, female employees still earn lesser pay no matter how qualified and hardworking they become at their workplaces. The study also elucidated that in almost every big corporation, men always get paid more money compared to women for the same kind of task. Waxman (2018) demonstrates that the gender pay inequality is based on concepts that were developed in the 20th century. For instance, while some women choose to arrange flowers in weddings and take sewing lessons to earn “pin money,” women are increasingly becoming breadwinners or co-breadwinners in today’s society. The change in the trend denotes that the general household income is also affected by how much women earn (Bishu & Alkadry, 2017). Also, the assumption that women do not negotiate for salary incrementments is false because women are penalized for inititating salary negotiations, and those who start negotiations do not even receive equal remuneration to their male counterparts (Amanatullah & Morris, 2010). The myths do not justify the prevalence of pay inequality on the basis of gender difference.

Individuals trying to downplay the extent of the gender pay inequality posit that women voluntarily choose a poor paying position by walking into stereotypic female professions and generally seeking lower-paying jobs. However, according to Labaton (2014), women are not being paid less because they choose to work in low paying jobs. Women that work in medicine, law, and finance still receive relatively low pay as compared to their male counterparts (Labaton, 2014). In light of the fact that the pay discrepancy between men and women is demoralizing to women and may ultimately reduce their productivity in the workplace setting, there is a need to ensure the problem is alleviated (Carnevale & Smith, 2014). Therefore, this study establishes the causes of gender pay inequality between women and men in the modern age, and explore the solutions that organizations could adopt to tackle the problem (Ridgeway, 1997). Typically, the study will seek to answer the question Where is the problem? Why is it a problem? What are the solutions to the issues?

Purpose of the Study

The notion that women and men are treated differently in the workplace demotivates employees and often proves to be counterproductive. Differences in payments are a result of work segregation, adherence to archaic stereotypes about gender roles, and unequal advocacy for payment harmonization (Auster, 1989). Although the subject of pay disparities has been extensively explored by empirical researchers, the subject in the modern context where women are equally as educated and experienced as their male counterparts, affirmative action is implemented in the workplace, and diversity on the basis of gender is encouraged has been minimally explored (Humm, 2014). In this regard, this study strives to determine factors that orchestrate gender payment gaps in the contemporary setting and provide informed and feasible recommendations to alleviate the problem. Furthermore, the study focuses on shifts in the gender pay gaps, the efficiency, and the futility of current strategies in constricting the gender pay gap.

Significance of the Study

The results of the current study can be extrapolated to inform human resource decisions as a means to promote conformity to the stipulations of affirmative actions. Furthermore, the gender pay gap is not only counterproductive but also demoralizing to female employees (Charlesworth & Macdonald, 2014). Therefore, implementing the recommendation that will be conveyed in this dissertation will be crucial in ensuring both male and female employees are afforded equal treatment. The study will also contribute to the vast body of research taking into account the fact that society has edged closer to attaining gender equality. Therefore, determining factors that are contributing to the prevalence of gender pay gap in the current age is vital in ensuring current trends on the issue are better understood.

Limitations of the Study

In the course of the completion of the current study, a myriad of limitations are bound to occur. The most vital challenge is the issue of access since some journal articles must be purchased from online libraries. Furthermore, getting reliable data from companies about their employees’ pay structures was a formidable task that threatened the scope of the current study. The other impediment to the study is the fact that the data will be obtained from already completed surveys rather than relying on primary data.

References Comment by Author: Not sure what happened to the formatting when you got to this page. Line spacing is set to double space, which is correct, but there is an additional 8 ponts being inserted at the end of each paragraph. This will need to be fixed for HRM 670.

Aly, Y. (2017). The Gender Wage Gap: Causes, Consequences, and Remedies. Comment by Author: Insufficiently referenced. No publication source, or journal name, or URL. Review OWL Purdue regarding basic rules for reference entries. Also, title of article, only two words should be capitalized: The and Causes: The gender wage gap: Causes, consequences, and remedies. Here is the recommended citation at the article itself (except that : Aly, Yaveline. (2017). The Gender Wage Gap: Causes, Consequences, and Remedies. In BSU Honors Program Theses and Projects. Item 243. Available at:

Amanatullah, E. T., & Morris, M. W. (2010). Negotiating gender roles: Gender differences in assertive negotiating are mediated by women’s fear of backlash and attenuated when negotiating on behalf of others — Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98(2), 256. Comment by Author: A period after the article title. No dash here in APA format. Comment by Author: The title of the journal is correctly formatted both capital letters and italic. The volume number is also to be in italic.

Auster, E. R. (1989). Task characteristics as a bridge between macro-and micro-level research on salary inequality between men and women. Academy of Management Review, 14(2), 173-193.

Avitzur, O. (2016). In Practice: Gender Salary Inequality Worst in Neurology: What Can Be Done to Remedy the Matter?. Neurology Today, 16(22), 17-18.

Babcock, L., & Laschever, S. (2009). Women don’t ask negotiation and the gender divide. Princton NJ: Princeton University Press. Comment by Author: Correctly formatted

Bishu, S. G., & Alkadry, M. G. (2017). A systematic review of the gender pay gap and factors that predict it. Administration & Society49(1), 65-104. Comment by Author: Here you have correctly formatted the volume number.

Carnevale, A. P., & Smith, N. (2014). Gender discrimination is at the heart of the wage gap. Time Magazine. Retrieved from Comment by Author: Missing volume # etc. Check out this link to OWL Purdue, which happens to provide a reference sample using Time Magazine.

Charlesworth, S., & Macdonald, F. (2014). Australia’s gender pay equity legislation: how new, how different, what prospects?. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 39(2), 421-440. Comment by Author: Italic

Erosa, A., Fuster, L., & Restuccia, D. Human Capital, and the Gender Gap in Wages.

Hughes, C. (2002). Critical concepts in feminist theory and research. Sage.

Humm, M. (2014). Feminisms: a reader. Routledge.

Labaton, V. (2014). Five myths about the gender pay gap. The Washington Post, 25.

Mandel, H., & Semyonov, M. (2005). Family policies, wage structures, and gender gaps: Sources of earnings inequality in 20 countries. American sociological review, 70(6), 949-967.

McElhaney, K., & Smith, G. (2017). Eliminating the Pay Gap: An Exploration of Gender Equality, Equal Pay, and A Company that Is Leading the Way. The Berkeley-Haas Case Series. University of California, Berkeley. Haas School of Business.

Meara, K., Pastore, F., & Webster, A. (2020). The gender pay gap in the USA: a matching study. Journal of Population Economics33(1), 271-305.

Nelson, J. I., & Lorence, J. (1988). Metropolitan earnings inequality and service sector employment. Social Forces, 67(2), 492-511.

O’Reilly, J., Smith, M., Deakin, S., & Burchell, B. (2015). Equal pay as a moving target: International perspectives on forty-years of addressing the gender pay gap. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 39(2), 299-317.

Petrzelka, P. (2005). “They make how much?” Investigating faculty salaries to examine gender inequalities. Teaching Sociology, 33(4), 380-388.

Plickert, G., & Sterling, J. (2017). Gender Still Matters: Effects of Workplace Discrimination on Employment Schedules of Young Professionals. Laws, 6(4), 28.

Polachek, S. W. (2004). How the human capital model explains why the gender wage gap narrowed.

Ridgeway, C. L. (1997). Interaction and the conservation of gender inequality: Considering employment. American Sociological Review, 218-235.

Saul, J. M. (2003). Feminism: Issues and arguments.

Stone, A. (2007). An introduction to feminist philosophy. Johanneshov : MTM.

Waxman, O. B. (2018). 5 of modern history’s most persistent myths about the gender wage gap. Times. Retrieved from


References are alphabetical as required, and utilize hanging indent as required.

Erosa, O’Reilly, Plickert and Polacheck are 4 references not cited in the text of Chapter 1.

If they are also not going to be cited in Chapters 2, 3 and 4, then either (a) text of chapter 1 needs some rewriting to include these 4 references, OR (b) these 4 references should be removed from thereference list completely since they are not cited at all. General rule for APA Reference list: All references must be cited at least ONE time in your essay.