Gender and work researchers have long encountered a puzzle: despite persistent gender discrimination, pay gaps, sexual harassment, and segregation within workplaces, women report approximately the same levels of job satisfaction as men. A new American Journal of Sociology article shows how “dignity” at work, measured in terms of respect and recognition, helps resolve this paradox.
To consider whether work experiences of respect and recognition are gendered, Roscigno, Yavorsky, and Quadlin use nationally-representative survey data from 2002 to 2018. Specifically, the authors examined self-reported measures of job satisfaction, respect at work, fair pay, and fair promotional procedures.
Although men and women in this time span report roughly equivalent job satisfaction, women are approximately 20% less likely to say that their pay is fair, and about 27% less likely to perceive fairness in promotion and experience respect at work. In addition, women who had experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination at work were less likely to report feeling respected at work.Taken together, these findings indicate that women experience less dignity at work than men, despite reporting comparable levels of job satisfaction. Additionally, what the authors call power-laden, gendered interactions like sexual harassment play a strong part in undermining women’s sense of dignity and respect in the workplace.