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Gender differences in work values: testing alternative explanations

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journal contribution
posted on 05.06.2017, 02:08 by Lindorff, Margaret, Barnett, Micheal
Past research has indicated that women may place less value upon work than do men. Three major explanations have been suggested. The first is that environmental demands or restrictions have caused women to view their work as less important. These demands include demographic and structural factors such as age, education, and employment status. The second explanation is that gender-based socialization pressures have led females to place less value upon work. Alternatively, it has been suggested that women are programmed biologically to find more satisfaction and fulfillment in the family than from work. These explanations were tested using data from the 1989 International Social Survey program. Women in the US sample placed less value upon work than men, taking into account the effects of age, education, employment status, and job satisfaction. This suggests that these structural factors alone may be insufficient explanation of the gender differences in work values. The influence of socialization pressures was next tested by comparing the work values of individuals from 11 countries in the survey. Country of origin was related to work values for both women and men. Thus the different socialization experiences of each country appear to influence work values. Finally, the biological programming argument requires that in every country work values will be lower for women than for men. However, a comparison found no significant difference in the work values of males and females in half the 11 countries in the study. The biological programming argument was therefore not supported.


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Working paper series (Monash University. Department of Management).

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