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Consider her adversity: four essays on gender inequality in the labor market
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Paper I: Gender Differences in Workplace Authority:Discrimination and the Role of Organizational LeadersThis paper examines to what extent discrimination accounts for inequalities in authority exertion between women and men in the Swedish labor market. Processes governing authority attainment are studied in terms of human capital and family responsibilities as well as of the horizontal sex segregation in the labor market. The empirical results strongly indicate that women are being unduly restricted from attaining supervisory positions at work, primarily within the private sector of the economy. The assumption that discrimination is brought about by decision-makers within work organizations was tentatively tested and proved not to hold, since it was determined that neither women's nor men's chances to reach higher supervisory positions are affected by the sex of the highest workplace manager. The analyses are based upon data from the 1991 Swedish Level of Living Survey and the 1991 Swedish Establishment Survey on a sample of 2 017 employees.

Paper II: Wages and Unequal Access to Organizational Power:An Empirical Test of Gender Discrimination (with Ryszard Szulkin)This study of Swedish workers investigates gender wage inequality, specifically, whether earnings are affected by the gender composition of establishments' managerial and supervisory staff. Theoretical arguments focus on managers' propensity to create and maintain or to undermine institutionalized gender bias and employees' capacity to mobilize resources and establish claims in the wage distribution process, mainly through social networks. Results show that gender-differentiated access to organizational power structures is essential in explaining women's relatively low wages. Women who work in establishments in which relatively many of the managers are men have lower wages than women with similar qualifications and job demands in establishments with more women in the power structure.

Paper III: Gendered Promotion Processes in the Labor Market:Do Inequalities Accrue or Attenuate?The focal question in this study is whether women's relative internal promotion chances are most restricted at higher or at lower positions in the labor market. Proponents of the commonly discussed glass-ceiling approach argue that obstacles to women's upward mobility accrue over hierarchical levels, mainly due to discriminatory practices directed against women aspiring to highly valued career positions. Other scholars claim that women's disadvantages rather attenuate at subsequently higher hierarchical levels, since women in relatively high positions are more able than men at similar levels due to selection processes taking place at lower levels. The results suggest that the relationship between women's relative promotion chances and hierarchical level does not describe a linear pattern. Neither women at really low hierarchical levels nor women at really high standings seem to have inferior promotion opportunities compared to men at the same levels. Instead, the strongest barriers to upward internal mobility appear to exist for women in intermediate hierarchical positions. Hence, women who overcome existing barriers to upward job mobility tend to face promotion chances on a par with those of men at the same levels.

Paper IV: Some Take the-Glass Escalator, Some Hit the Glass-Ceiling?Career Consequences of Occupational Sex SegregationOne frequently proposed explanation to poor career chances among employees in female-dominated occupations is that these fields of work are made up by dead-end jobs that offer extremely limited opportunities for upward career mobility. However, the explanatory power of this argumentseems far from gender neutral, judging from the findings in this paper. Results from analyses on a large Swedish longitudinal data set suggest that men who work in typically female occupations have substantially better internal promotion chances than have equally qualified women in such occupations. Hence, women seem to be the ones who face limited opportunity structures in female-typed lines of work, whereas many men are able to circumvent obstacles to internal career growth in such settings. The finding that men face better internal career opportunities than women do in typically female occupations is compatible with the idea that a so-called glass-escalator takes underrepresented men into an internal upward career to an extent and by a speed that their female counterparts can hardly enjoy. A bit surprisingly, the results indicate that men and women face equal internal career chances in male-dominated occupations. Hence, the assumption of the existence of glass-ceilings hindering women's career growth in male-dominated fields of work obtains no support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Swedish Science Press, 2001. , 21 p.
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 47
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-71800ISBN: 91-7604-084-4OAI: diva2:485819
Public defence
2001-02-02, 10:00
Härtill 4 uppsatserAvailable from: 2012-01-30 Created: 2012-01-30Bibliographically approved

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