Gender Discrimination and Wage Differential Essay

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Page 1 of 7 injustice and inequality. First, literature related to the fundamentals of discrimination and descriptions of gender discrimination are discussed in the literature. Following a detailed discussion of what the literature says about gender discrimination, the literature review shifts toward the quantifiable effects of gender discrimination in the workplace. Effects are examined both in terms of measurable effects on organizations and individuals.

Fundamentals of Discrimination

Discrimination is unfortunately pervasive in the workplace. Described as an "inaccurate perception of differences," discrimination can be based on independent variables like race, gender, language, and other demographics (Cleveland, Vescio & Barnes-Farrell, p. 149). The differences perceived are "inaccurate," and also have a direct impact on status, access to power, and access to avenues of promotion or pay increases. Most literature frames discrimination as being "subtle and covert," well concealed from the realms of legal scrutiny, and often difficult to define precisely (Marchiondo, Ran & Cortina, 2015, p. 47). Likewise, "subtle and unintended processes" are listed as causal factors of discrimination in the workplace (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013, p. 454). Discrimination can be personal, or one-on-one, or structural in nature, embedded in institutionalized practices, organizational culture, and norms of leadership, communication, and acquisition of power (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013; Bilkis, Habib & Sharmin, 2010). Likewise, Marchiondo, Ran, & Cortina (2015) classify four types of discrimination: "interpersonal discrimination, aversive racism, everyday discrimination, and selective incivility," (p. 47). The literature also shows that discrimination is about "perceived effectiveness" and is not based on measurable differences in the actual effectiveness of employees (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker & Woehr, 2014). Subordinate employees are therefore rated as being less effective than they are, and discrimination becomes embedded, entrenched, and self-perpetuating.

What Does Gender Discrimination Specifically Look Like?

The literature reveals that gender may indeed trump race and other demographics, creating unique and pernicious types of discrimination in the workplace. This is because even when culture, race, age, and other variables are accounted for, men are perceived of as having a higher status in general within their society, and are perceived as more "prototypical leaders" in the workplace (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013, p. 457). As a result, human resources practices may inadvertently reflect sexist norms of organizational behavior. Stamarski & Hing (2015), for example, point out that human resources practices and policies, including decision-making processes, methods by which human resources policies are enacted and enforced, impact hiring, pay, and promotion of women in the workplace. Gender discrimination has been defined in the literature as the underrepresentation of women in elite leadership positions" simultaneous with the "undervaluation of women's effectiveness as leaders," (Paustian-Underdahl, Walker & Woehr, 2014, p. 1129).

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However, gender discrimination is also more complex than that. Therefore, the literature supports a view that gender discrimination has a two-fold manifestation: on individual women, and on the organizational culture.

The types of gender discrimination in the workplace are often described via the use of metaphors. In fact, there are a slew of metaphors used to describe gender discrimination in the workplace. For one, the leaky pipeline refers to the increased rate of female dropouts in particular male-dominated fields, notably STEM fields (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013). The leaky pipeline points to the pernicious nature of gender discrimination, as the more women who leave male-dominated fields because of systematic discrimination, the less likely it will be for those fields to change their organizational cultures.

Other metaphors for gender discrimination in the workplace include the "maternal wall," which links with the work/family/life balances or imbalances (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013). The "sticky floor" metaphor refers to the tendency of women to get trapped in low-mobility, low wage work (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013; Channar, Abbasi & Ujan, 2011). Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters (2013) also mention the glass cliff metaphor for the ways women's lives are made "riskier" when they assume positions of greater wealth and power in an organization, and also to the "labyrinth" metaphor for the unduly complex, convoluted, and difficult paths women's mobility and status increase can be in the workplace (Brukmuller, Ryan, Haslam & Peters, 2013). Stamarski & Hing (2015) refer to hostile and benevolent "brands" of sexism in the workplace, the former of which are obviously more overt than the latter, which are simply the stereotypical presumptions of women's kind, nurturing, gentle nature and subsequent implications for women who do not fit those stereotypes.

Effects of Discrimination in the Workplace

Gender discrimination has "far-reaching societal effects," (Marger, n.d., p. 3). The main effects of discrimination in the workplace revealed in the literature are in the realms of payscale/remuneration, status, opportunity, authority, and personal health. Health is an often-ignored consequence of gender discrimination in the workplace. A growing body of research is quantifying the effects of discrimination on the female work force. For example, Channar, Abbasi, Ujan (2011) study the stress-related effects of….....

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Bilkis, A., Habib, S.B. & Sharmin, T. (2010). A review of discrimination in employment and workplace. ASA University Review 4(2)

Brukmuller, S., Ryan, M.K., Haslam, A. & Peters, K. (2013). Ceilings, cliffs, and labyrinths. In the SAGE Handbook of Gender and Psychology. Sage.

Channar, Z.A., Abbassi, Z. & Ujan, I.A. (2011). Gender discrimination in workforce and its impact on the employees.

Cleveland, J.N., Vescio, T.K. & Barnes-Farrell, J.L. (2013). Gender discrimination in organizations. In Discrimination at Work. Psychology Press.

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Langton, N. & Konrad, A.M. (1998). The impact of labor market structure on sex differences in earnings. Gender, Work, and Organization 5(2).

Marchiondo, L, Ran, S. & Cortina, L. (2015). Modern discrimination. In The Oxford Handbook of Workplace Discrimination. Oxford University Press.

Marger, M.N. (n.d.). Social inequality.

Nezlek, G. & Dehondt, G. (2011). Gender wage differentials in information systems. International Journal of Social and Organizational Dynamics in IT 1(1): 13-29.

Ortiz, S.Y. & Roscigno, V.J. (2009). Discrimination, women, and work. The Sociological Quarterly 50(2): 336-359.

Paustian-Underdahl, S.C., Walker, L.S. & Woehr, D.J. (2014). Gender and perceptions of leadership effectiveness. Journal of Applied Psychology 99(6): 1129-1145.

Shamon, H. & Dulmer, H. (2014). Raising the Question on 'Who Should Get What?' Again: On the Importance of Ideal and Existential Standards. Social Justice Research 27, pp. 340-368.

Stamarski, C.S. & Hing, L.S.S. (2015). Gender inequalities in the workplace. Frontiers in Psychology 6(1400).

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