Perceptions of Fair Pay and the Gender Wage Gap



The present research examined the extent to which the wage gap between men and women is perceived as “fair”. Based on research on distributive justice behavior, it was hypothesized that recommendations of fair pay would depend on the employee's gender and on occupational gender-linkage and that female respondents would recommend a lower fair pay than male respondents. Results indicated that perceptions of fair pay were influenced by the employee's gender, but only in the moderate-status occupations where lower pay was perceived as fair for female employees compared to gender-unspecified employees. Similar fair pay recommendations were made for occupations irrespective of their gender-linkage. As predicted, female respondents recommended a lower fair pay than male respondents. Implications of the findings for future research are discussed in terms of subtle, rather than blatant forms of gender wage discrimination that are attributable to the concentration of females in moderate-status occupations and to the weaker connection between work and pay among females than among males.