Social Class Job Discrimination

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A N I N V E S T I G A T I O N OF G E N D E R BIAS IN THE J O B E V A L U A T I O N P R O C E S S Jeffrey S. Hornsby Ball State University

Philip G. Benson
New Mexico State University

Brien N. Smith
Auburn University

ABSTRACT: This study investigated the potential impact of gender segregation of jobs on evaluation bias in judgments of the relative worth of those jobs. Four job descriptions were selected which were ambiguous as to gender mix; these were artificially labeled as predominantly male or predominantly female. In addition, two clearly gender-stereotyped jobs (clerk, mechanic) were included, and were labeled as predominantly female and male, respectively. Another job (juvenile probation officer) was included as relatively gender neutral. Finally, a matron or jailer job description was included; these job descriptions were identical except for gender-based pronouns. For the four gender-ambiguous jobs, no evaluation bias was found, which is consistent with previous research. For the less artificial matron/jailer manipulation, however, evaluation bias was found. Finally, for the mechanic job some evidence was found to suggest evaluation bias based on the gender of the job evaluator. Results are discussed in terms of appropriate manipulations for studies of gender bias in job evaluations. I n r e c e n t y e a r s , t h e idea of c o m p a r a b l e w o r t h h a s b e c o m e a controv e r s i a l issue (e.g., L i v e r n a s h , 1980; T r e i m a n & H a r t m a n n , 1981). Propon e n t s of c o m p a r a b l e w o r t h cite t h e m a l e to f e m a l e e a r n i n g s gap as evidence t h a t p a y d i s c r i m i n a t i o n exists a g a i n s t w o m e n . T h e i r r e a s o n i n g is t h a t jobs of c o m p a r a b l e w o r t h or v a l u e to t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n a r e p a i d differe n t i a l l y on t h e b a s i s of t h e g e n d e r of t y p i c a l job i n c u m b e n t s a n d not solely on t h e b a s i s of t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h e w o r k p e r f o r m e d . H o w e v e r , oppo-

Address requests for reprints to: Jeffrey S. Hornsby, Department of Management Science, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. 9 1987 Human Sciences Press 150



nents of comparable worth cite various work and worker characteristics, other than incumbent gender, as the main cause of the earnings gap. In m a n y organizations, a system of job evaluation is used to allocate salaries to jobs based on various compensable factors, such as required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions (Henderson, 1982, pp. 196-227). Such methods of compensation administration clearly have the potential to impact the degree of gender bias within an organization's pay structure. Thus, research on job evaluation has substantial practical and social significance. Indeed, biases can enter such a system in several ways.

Sources of Job Evaluation Bias
Discrimination or bias can enter into the job evaluation process in at least four ways (Treiman & Hartmann, 1981, pp. 74-80). First, the ranking of jobs is partially dependent on the factors used in the evaluation and the relative weight given to each factor. In most cases these factor weights are derived from existing pay rates and would thus presumably reflect any currently existing pay discrimination. Second, job evaluation is fundamentally a judgmental process. Therefore, it is possible for sex stereotypes to enter into the male or female evaluator's judgmental processes. Third, many employers make it a practice to use more than one job evaluation plan in their organization. The use of different plans (e.g., for clerical and management) makes it difficult to compare the worth of jobs and to determine whether pay discrimination exists between plans. Fourth, using the differences between actual and predicted...
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