Satya Wacana Conference & Seminar, International Conference on Human Resource Management

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Isabella Scheibmayr, Astrid Reichel

Date: 2016-09-27 08:00 AM – 09:00 AM
Last modified: 2016-09-27


For decades negative relationships between female-dominated gender demography and wages could be found across a great variety of occupations (England, 1984; Wootton, 1997).

Currently cross-sectional analyses still show that occupations are gender-segregated (England, 2005) and that gender demography of occupations is strongly related to occupational status and wages (Bielby & Baron, 1986; Perales, 2010). Studies over time find high degrees of parallelism between feminization and decline in wages (England, 1984) and status (Cejka &
Eagly, 1999). For HRM a relationship between status decrease and the increase in women’s participation have been documented until the 1990s (Roos & Manley, 1996). Contrary to these general findings, however, there seem to be some occupational fields contesting the established relationship between female-dominated gender demography and wage/status.

Blau, Simpson, and Anderson (1998) show trends of desegregation over time for certain occupations - the degree of segregation decreased in managerial jobs, professional jobs, sales and services (Blau et al., 1998, p.45). For the occupational field of Human Resource Management, Reichel, Brandl, and Mayerhofer (2010) and Reichel, Brandl, and Mayerhofer (2013) keep track of the developments in gender demography and status over the last 20 years and find that vertical integration of women can coexist with status increase. For this coexistence of increase in female participation and status in the same time period they provide an explanation they call the “strongest link”. If employers face increased pressure to integrate women in top management simultaneously with high degrees of horizontal segregation as well as gendered stereotypes, they react by integrating women into top management in occupations that match “female stereotypes better than most other functions” (Reichel et al., 2010, p.348).

We set out to test this explanation across occupations and see if the described coexistence of high share of women and high intra-organizational status can also be found with wages.

In the paper at hand we use the 2015 U.S. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey to answer this question by analyzing the interaction between gender and occupations.

The dataset used provides information on median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by detailed occupation and sex for year 2015. 539 occupations in five sectors are covered using the 2010 SOC (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). The dataset allows for general analyses over a big variety of occupations as well as more in-depth looks into selected occupational fields. Human Resource Management is an occupational field characterized by a female-dominated gender demography for which first results hinting at un-gendering exist, for status (Reichel et al., 2010, 2013).

Our results using all occupations in the data set confirm the effects on gendered occupations. We find that the share of women workers has a negative relationship with the median earnings on the occupational level. Higher shares of women also correlate with a lower gender wage gap, and the gender wage gap also correlates positively with occupational earnings. All three results indicate negative effect of feminization on the occupational level, consistent with previous literature.

Taking a closer look at HRM, we can confirm the female dominance in the field. 73.23% of HR Managers, 74.49% of HR workers, 86.72% in Payroll and 80% HR assistants are women. The wage level in HR Managers, however, is +1.0363% different from the median earnings of all management occupations, rejecting the usual negative relation. The gender wage gap is 15%, while in comparable management occupations it amounts to 23%. The high share of women HR managers therefore has no negative effects on the occupational wage. As other occupations that draw female stereotypes we identified Marketing, Education administrators,
Medical and Health services managers, and Social and Community service managers. The results for these fields are mixed – in Marketing we experience very weak female stereotypes, as this field does not draw on stereotypes of caring, but only of working with people.

However, wages in this Management occupation are higher than in others (8.22%), but with a high wage gap (21.52%) comparable to other Management field. Education administrators experience similar patterns, higher wages than other occupations (5.33%) and a high wage gap (21.01%). Medical and health services managers as well as social and community service managers both have lower wages (-10.44% and -24.35%) than other management occupations and compared to HRM, higher gender wage gaps (18.71% and 15.5%). Therefore the presence of a “strong-link” through stereotypical management fields can only be observed for Human Resource Management, Education administrators and, to a lesser extent, Marketing and Sales managers. HRM is the management field with the third highest median earnings for women (after CEOs and Computer and Information Systems managers) and we observe very different job ranks for women and men, if we use wages as indicators, which might partly explain segregation.

The neutralization of the negative effects of feminization is even more apparent if we compare HRM with management occupations that are dominated by men. General and operations managers for example, have a share of 75% men in the occupation. The wage for both men and women is lower in this occupation than in HRM and compared to other functional management occupations (-6.74%). The gender wage gap is higher (-26%), resulting in lower wages for both men (-9.35%) and women (-12.03%) compared to other management occupations.

This cross-sectional comparison of management occupations show that feminization does not necessarily involve low occupational wages and low wage gaps. Together with the results from Reichel et al. (2013) we can therefore reject a universal negative effect of women’s participation in Management occupation on wages and status. Furthermore we test if these
results may be due to increased pressures on top management to integrate women while at the same time preserving high levels of segregation and gendered stereotypes (“strongest-link” see Reichel et al. (2010)). In the case of HRM this seems to translate into (relatively) high
wages for women and men in the occupation.

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