Gender Pay Gap Based on Prejudice and Discrimination

Leslie Carol Botha: This is one issue that just does not get resolved.  Guess that is because money is the ultimate power and control in this country. The world would be a lot different if this gender gap was eradicated.

The Vicious Cycle of the Gender Pay Gap

June 14, 2012

The following post was published on the Knowledge@Wharton website on June 06, 2012.

This picture says it all.

The gender pay gap is a labyrinth of unconscious prejudice and blatant discrimination, a byproduct of unbalanced professional opportunities, educational prospects anddeeply-entrenched societal norms. With so many forces at work, getting to the root of glass ceiling issues within a single firm or industry is difficult, if not impossible.

Janice Fanning Madden, a Wharton real estate professor and a professor of regional science and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, had the rare opportunity to examine the mechanics of the pay gap among male and female stockbrokers while acting as an expert witness in class action lawsuits filed against two large brokerage firms in the early 2000s. Women from the firms claimed that the pay structure at the companies unfairly benefitted men. Leadership at the brokerage houses contended that both men and women were paid using the same commission-based system and that women were paid less on average because they were worse sales people than men.

Madden found that women were assigned inferior accounts, which led to them earning lower returns and smaller commissions. As Madden notes in “Performance-Support Bias and the Gender Pay Gap among Stockbrokers,” this perpetuated a vicious cycle because the firms doled out amenities that often aid in better returns — such as bigger or more attractive offices, support staff and mentors — based on employees’ sales records. Thus, women not being given the opportunity to handle a lucrative account today also hurt their chances of being given advantages that could have a significant impact on their future efforts.

“I wasn’t able to see what kind of offices [the women] had, what kind of secretaries or what kind of titles,” Madden says. “But the decisions of assigning those things to women were made by the same people who were stiffing them on the accounts. They were probably dealing with less support in these other areas, even when they had the same type of account [as men] to work with.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.