The devaluation of women's work: Analysis of national and experimental data
AuthorAman, Carolyn J.
AdvisorEngland, Paula S.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractDifferent explanations have been given for the sex gap in pay between male and female occupations. Comparable worth proponents argue predominantly female occupations pay less than comparable male occupations because of their sex composition, that occupations' sex composition affects their wages. In contrast, Reskin and Roos (1990) and Strober (1984) argue the correspondence between occupational sex composition and wages is due to employers' preferences for male workers. Given first choice of occupations, males choose the better compensated occupations, which results in a causal effect of occupational wages on sex composition. Despite these opposing causal claims, few studies have attempted to ascertain the causal order between occupational sex composition and wages. This research focuses on the relationship between occupational sex composition and wages during the 1980s. Consistent with causal assumption of comparable worth proponents, analyses of Current Population Survey data (Study 1) support a causal effect of occupational sex composition on wages. Study 1 demonstrates that sex composition has a linear effect on wages for females and a nonlinear effect on wages for males. For both males and females, sex composition has a negative effect on wages over the entire range of sex composition. Study 2 revisits the causality question using 1980 and 1990 Census data, supplemented by additional controls from other data sets and finds a nonlinear effect of occupational sex composition on wages for females, but not for males. A negative effect of wages on sex composition was not found in any of the models. These results suggest that males may be less susceptible to the negative effects of sex composition than females. Study III uses an experimental study to determine if a "devaluation by association process" accounts for the lower wages of female occupations. The study found males but not females engage in a devaluation by association process, but neither males nor females devalue occupations based on their association with women. This may be indicative of a decline in the importance of sex as a diffuse status characteristic. The combined results of these studies suggest cautious optimism as far as reducing the sex gap in pay is concerned.
Degree ProgramGraduate College