Get access

Justifying the Pay System Through Status: Gender Differences in Reports of What Should Be Important in Pay Decisions


Mary Hogue, Kent State University, Department of Management and Information Systems, P. O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242-0001. E-mail:


We explored students' beliefs about what should be important in determining an employee's pay. Ratings of 12 different work input items fell into 4 factors reflecting different methods of status attainment: 3 were achievement-related and 1 was ascriptive. Overall, participants reported that the 3 achievement-related factors should be more important in pay decisions than the ascriptive factor, but the precise amount of importance assigned to each factor differed by gender. Women said more importance should go to the 3 achieved status factors, and men said more should go to the ascribed status factor. We use system justification theory to explain that the system in which unequal distribution of pay occurs is justified through status beliefs.