Gender role perceptions and job satisfaction levels.

Author:Smith-Hunter, Andrea

    Over the last five decades, the influx of women into the workforce has occurred at an unprecedented pace, resulting in a 46-48% rate of workforce participation level (Jones and George, 2009). Despite their labor force participation rates, numerous studies reveal that women continue to face stereotyping, struggle with bias in hiring, promotion, training and salaries and are forced to reconcile serious work/life conflicts. One area that has received an adequate focus is the level of job satisfaction women experience when compared to their male counterparts. However, no known study has looked at the link between job satisfaction levels and the level of satisfaction with the skills and training received from females' college education.

    Job satisfaction has been defined as a positive feeling about one's job resulting from an evaluation of its characteristics (Robbins and Judge, 2011). The topic of job satisfaction is important because of its implications to other job related variables, such as job performance, job involvement and motivation (Robbins and Judge, 2011; Danielson and Bodin, 2009), Moreover, various studies have shown that job satisfaction is positively related to motivation, job involvement, organizational citizenship behavior, organizational commitment, life satisfaction, mental health and job performance and negatively related to absenteeism, turnover and perceived stress (Janssen, 2001; McCue and Gianakis, 1997, Judge et al, 2001; Spector, 1997). As such, the various disciplines of economics, sociology, psychology, psychiatry and various fields of business have shown an appropriate interest in workers' job satisfaction levels.

    The level of job satisfaction among women is also an important aspect of their work experience because it may signify their potential long-term commitment to the world of work, as well as their ability to simultaneously address work/family conflict issues (Andrisani, 1978; Hodson, 1989; Mcelwain et al, 2005; Stevens, Kiger and Riley, 2006).

    The principal purpose of this study is to examine a number of aspects of job satisfaction for female graduates, such as job advancement and compensation levels in a context of comparison with counterparts across gender lines. A secondary purpose is to look at the graduates' job satisfaction and look back to their satisfaction with their college education to determine the relationship between the two areas. More specifically, the study involves three major questions. First, will the women from the same graduating cohort express varying job satisfaction levels when viewing from a varying gender perspective? Second, will the women from the same cohort express varying job satisfaction with job advancement and compensation again when looked at from varying gender perspectives? Third, what will be the link between satisfaction with college education obtained and job satisfaction levels for the said group of women?


    Satisfaction with one's job is said to be a standard for assessing the quality one's work experiences (Bokemeier and Lacy, 1986; Auster, 2001). Job satisfaction for women has been studied from various perspectives. This paper does so from five major streams: job satisfaction and performance; job satisfaction across various occupations; job satisfaction across countries; job satisfaction as related to work/family conflict and job satisfaction in varying gender composition groups.

    Job satisfaction as related to job performance are detailed in the following key studies. The first looks at sex differences in job satisfaction and was explored utilizing data from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) General Social Surveys, using information from the years 1974-1982. While the study confirms that women receive less job rewards than men, they do not show any difference in job satisfaction levels when compared to their male counterparts (Bokemeier and Lacy, 1986).

    Earlier studies suggest that the gender composition of an employee's work group may in fact affect their job satisfaction levels (O'Reilly et al, 1989; Smith, 1992; Tsui, Egan and O'Reilly, 1992). This has been affirmed in more recent studies by Fields and Blum (1997) and even more recently from Bender at al (2005). In the case of Fields and Blum (1997), the authors found that both men and women working in gender balance groups have higher levels of job satisfaction than those who work in homogenous groups (Fields and Blum, 1997). They further concluded that employees working in groups containing mostly men have the lowest level of job satisfaction, with those working in groups containing mostly women falling in the middle (Fields and Blum, 1997). In the same vein but with differing results, Bender et al (2005) found that women report higher job satisfaction levels than their male counterparts, especially in workplaces that are dominated by fellow female workers. However, in a divergent set of results, the authors found that gender composition of the workplace plays no role in determining the job satisfaction levels of women (Bender et al, 2005).

    There are many interesting parallels between gender relations and the work/home divide in regards to job satisfaction. Managing work and family responsibilities is an increasing problem in today's society, due in part to the changing roles of men and women in the workplace and at home. Not only are women now working outside the home, but various studies have found that women continue to engage in the majority of the housework at home (Duxbury et al, 1994; Leo, 2003; Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985). Using questionnaire data from 320 participants, Mcelwain, Korabik and Rosin (2005) found no significant gender differences for the relationship between Work Interfering with Family (WIF) and family satisfaction. In addition, the relationship between Family Interfering with Work (FIW) and jobs satisfaction was significantly stronger for men than for women (Mcelwain, Korabik and Rosin, 2005). In a related study, women's job satisfaction levels are higher for women with more job flexibility with their work and greater levels of family cohesion (Stevens, Kiger and Riley, 2006).

    Job satisfaction levels of women and the central paradox of why women's job satisfaction is not always lower than that for men has been investigated across countries (Kim, 2005; Remennick, 2005; SousaPoza and Sousa-Poza, 2000). Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza (2000) found that in countries where women are much more satisfied than men, work-role outputs tend to be higher for women than for men.

    Working women in Israel showed no differences in their job satisfaction levels when compared to their male counterparts (Remennick, 2005), while women in Korea from a survey of 5,128 public employees defied the central paradox and indicated that women are more satisfied with their jobs than are men (Kim, 2005).

    Issues related to women's job satisfaction levels and different types of occupations have been researched through a number of studies. Environmental health professionals in North Carolina were evaluated, with significant differences...

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