Agents of Change or Cogs in the Machine? Reexamining the Influence of Female Managers on the Gender Wage Gap

We find no support for the proposition that female managers act to reduce the gender wage gap among employees who report to them

Sameer B. Srivastava; Eliot L. Sherman


Scholarcy highlights

  • The gender wage gap remains one of most persistent and widely studied forms of inequality in the workplace
  • Male employees reporting to female managers were predicted to earn approximately 5% less than male employees reporting to male managers
  • The goal of this article has been to reexamine, with new empirical evidence, what has become received wisdom in sociological research: that the increased representation of women in management will lead to a reduction in the gender wage gap
  • Social psychological theories of in-group preference based on shared gender identity, the desire of female managers to redress past gender inequality, and the stronger in-group preference that women exhibit relative to men in implicit, or automatic, forms of cognition all imply that female managers will take direct action to allocate a disproportionately large share of rewards to their female subordinates
  • Though compelling conceptual arguments exist on both sides of the debate, the empirical evidence to date has largely supported the agents-of-change perspective
  • Building on the groundwork laid by Penner, Toro-Tulla, and Huffman, the present study sought to examine the direct effects that female supervisors can have on the gender wage gap among the employees that they supervise by estimating within-individual models
  • Cohen and Huffman concluded: “ot only are women blocked from upper-level managerial positions and denied the benefits of those jobs, but their absence has ripple effects that shape workplace outcomes for nonmanagerial women as well....nroads made by women into upper-status managerial positions will ‘lift all boats’ by boosting the wages of women employed in nonmanagerial occupations.” our results do not speak to the potential indirect mechanisms through which women in management could ameliorate the gender wage gap, they do call into question the assumption that female managers will directly influence the gender wage gap by allocating a disproportionately large share of rewards to the women who report to them

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