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Report of a Seminar
An Agenda for Basic Research on Comparable Worth Heidil. Hartm~nn, Patrician. Roos, an~Donaki]. Neiman INTRODUCTION Background Beginning in the late 1970s, the question of whether the differences in average wages between jobs held mainly by women and jobs held mainly by men are equitable has come to the fore as a major social issue. Indeed, it was identified as "the civil rights issue of the eighties" by Eleanor Holmes Norton when she was chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commis- sion (Norton, 19791. Increasingly the claim is heard that jobs ought to be paid according to their intrinsic worth, as measured by such factors as skill required, responsibility entailed, and effort involved, and that the wage levels of jobs of "comparable worth," that is, equal worth or equal value, ought to be equal. 1 Concern with the average wage levels of occupations and jobs stems from two relatively unchanging aspects of the labor market: extreme job segrega- tion by sex and the well-known gap in pay between men and women. Considering only workers employed full time year round, women on aver- age earn about 60 percent of what men earn, and this gap shows little sign of . _ 1 Although the issue of comparability can apply to wage differentials between all jobs (e.g. football players and plumbers), this discussion is concerned only with those occupational differen- tials that are thought to be affected by stereotyping, bias, or discrimination based on sex, race, or ethnicity, and the primary focus is on sex. 3
4 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN lessening. Moreover, the sex segregation of jobs is also persistent; many jobs are stereotyped as "male" or "female"; fully two-thirds of men or women would have to change occupations for their distributions across occupations to be similar. Social science literature has established a correla- tion between average occupational wage levels and the extent of female representation in the occupation: the more a job is done by women, the lower its average wage level. It is this connection between "femaleness" and lower wage levels that is challenged by the comparable worth strategy. Comparable worth advocates believe that the lower wage rates of female jobs are the result at least partly of discrimination and that wage rates should therefore be realigned. The comparable worth strategy generally involves examination ofthe relative wage rates of jobs held predominantly by women and those held predominantly by men and study of the bases of these wage rates. Via job evaluation procedures, which attempt to establish objective criteria for such job features as skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions, the relative value of jobs is established and wage rates are realigned accordingly. The general goal of a comparable worth strategy is pay equity equitable occupational wage rates that are not influenced by the sex, race, orethnicity of the incumbents. Comparable worth claims are being raised by workers and their represent- atives through legislation, collective bargaining, litigation, and other means.2 Much of the legislature activity occurring at state and local levels is directed at state and municipal civil service systems; comparable worth studies, task forces, and implementation efforts are being undertaken in many jurisdictions (Reichenberg, 1983; Bureau of National Affairs, 1984; National Committee on Pay Equity et al., 191341. With respect to federal law, in 1981 the U.S. Supreme Court in Gunther v. County of Washington (101 S. Ct. 2242) seemed to open a door for comparable worth claims when it held that a claim of sex-based wage discrimination in dissimilarjobs could be heard under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And recently, in AFSCME v. State of Washington (578 F. Supp. 846), a federal district court held that the state of Washington must pay wages for state civil service jobs in accordance with the jobs' worth as measured by a study commissioned by the state. Many comparable worth claims are being addressed to very large employers with rawer bureaucratic personnel systems that establish pay rates for jobs according to a variety of administrative critena. Nearly all claims are addressed to single employers and are concerned with an employ- er's job assignment and wage-setting practices.3 2 For more thorough histories ofthe comparable worth issue, see Treiman and Hartmann (1981), Cain (1985), and a special issue of Public Personnel Management on comparable worth (Reichen- berg, 1983). 3 For a discussion of the nature of comparable worth claims, see Hartmann ( ~ 984) .
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 5
6 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN Although the committee generally concluded that the comparable worth strategy merited serious consideration as a remedy for wage discrimination, it also pointed out that it had undertaken no examination of implementing comparable worth strategies or of their economic and social consequences. For example, would there be disemployment effects as a result of raising the wages of nurses and secretaries relative to other wage rates? Would changes in the relative wages of different occupations be temporary or long-lasting? What would be the economic consequences for firms? Would firms that raise the wage rates of women's jobs suffer financially? What would be the effect on the total economy? Would there be strong inflationary effects? In addition to possible unknown economic effects, the implementation of comparable worth policies may have far-reaching social effects, altering perceptions of men and women, self-esteem, behavior, job choices, and so forth. From a policy point of view, the costs and benefits of a comparable worth strategy would be illuminated by a comparison with other equal employment oppor- tunity and affirmative action strategies. Comparable worth strategies do not address all forms of discrimination that may be present in the labor market. Focused on whatever discriminatory clement there is in the relative wage rates of jobs within a single employer, it offers no remedy to ensure equal access to all occupations and all work- places, some of which are more desirable than others; equal promotional opportunities; equal access to job training or educational programs; and so on. Comparable worth policies may well affect how these other, more tradi- tional equal employment opportunity policies function and may help or hinder achievement oftheirgoals. In this context it should be pointed out that the concept of comparable worth is as relevant to the relative wage rates of jobs held disproportionately by minority groups as it is to "women's jobs." To the extent that "minority jobs" exist and their wage levels are influenced by race-based wage discrimination, remedies using the comparable worth approach would apply. The wage levels of jobs that are held predominantly by minority women may be even more depressed by discrimination. Virtu- ally no examination of the effect of race or ethnic discrimination on the relative wage levels of jobs has been undertaken, however. Research Issues Two general themes and, within these, six major topics emerged from the seminar discussions and hence structure this agenda of needed research. It is clear that research is needed first on occupational wage differentials and discrimination, including their underlying causes. We need to under- stand a good deal better than we do now how wages are set and what factors lead to wage differentials in order to decide, both in general and in particular
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 7 instances, whether and to what extent wage discrimination affects the rela- tive average wage rates of jobs and occupations. It bears stressing at the outset that, in the view of the seminar participants, issues related to wage determination require a multidisciplinary approach. Economics, sociology, and anthropology in particular offer relevant perspectives and methodolo- g~es. Within this general area three specific research topics were identified: 1. We need to understand better how wages are set within enterprises and how they are affected by other employer practices, such as job assignment, as well as by workers' decisions. Although many assumptions are made about the impact of market forces and competition on wage-setting pro- cesses within organizations, little research on wage determination within firms has been undertaken. 2. Additional work is needed on the behavior of workers within the labor market. Despite a great deal of research to date, there is still no consensus on the relative importance of choices made by workers, particularly choices made by women workers, regarding investment in human capital; assump- tions made by employers regarding women's labor force commitment; and still other factors that help to produce gender differentials in occupational status and earnings. 3. A relatively neglected topic, perhaps because it is taken for granted, is the set of underlying cultural assumptions and belief systems that structure people's attitudes regarding appropriate pay levels for men's and women's jobs and appropriate work for women and men. How does our culture come to value certain kinds of work, or work done by certain kinds of people, more (or less) than other work? The second major research area identified is wage adjustment strategies end theirimpact. If comparable worth is adopted as public policy, we need to determine effective ways to implement the policy and to minimize any adverse impact. In contrast to research on some aspects of wage differentials and labor markets, this general area has received very little attention from the social science research community. Three topics were identified: _e~ ~ my. ,, ,~~^, 1. Ways need to be devised to measure the relative worth of jobs. Since existing job evaluation procedures appear to be the principal available method, attention needs to be devoted to improving job evaluation proce- dures and modifying them to make them appropriate for the assessment of pay discrimination. In particular, the extent of social judgment bias in exist- ing job evaluation systems needs to be assessed and, if it is substantial, eliminated. 2. The economic and other consequences of implementing comparable
8 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN worth, and in particular the relative impact of various implementation strate- gies, need to be assessed. The costs and benefits of the comparable worth strategy need to be compared with those of other equal employment opportu- nity and affirmative action strategies. Almost nothing is known to date about such questions, although they are crucial in assessing the desirability of alternative policies. 3. Similarly, research is needed on the political aspects of the process of implementing controversial policies such as comparable worth. Issues such as consensus building, power relations in the workplace, and negotiating and other strategies are relevant to how comparable worth policies are implemented and with what effect. What strategies are likely to be most effective and to result in the most desirable policy decisions? Examples of the implementation of comparable worth remedies that come about because of court orders, laws, or collective bargaining need to be assessed for their effectiveness in achieving the desired goals. The seminar participants took a broad view of the research needed to better understand comparable worth. Such research clearly requires a multi- disciplinary approach and the input of experts from several social science disciplines: psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science. The participants did not attempt to set priorities for the research topics suggested. It is likely that each discipline will view priorities some- what differently. In the following, research topics with more immediate practical application to issues of comparable worth implementation are dis- cussed in the section immediately below, "Research on Comparable Worth and Other Wage Adjustment Strategies." Those that aim more at the underly- ing causes of what is observed in the labor market today are discussed in the second major section, "Research on Wage Determinants and Wage Dis- crimination." RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH AND OTHER WAGE ADJUSTMENT STRATEGIES Social Judgments, Social Judgment Biases, and Job Evaluation Procedures The NRC Committee on Occupational Classification and Analysis con- cluded that formal job evaluation procedures are a potentially useful tool for identifying and correcting instances of wage discrimination (Treiman and Hartmann, 19811. These procedures are increasingly being used as a stan- dard for assessing the comparable worth of jobs, in the context of various attempts, including litigation, to revise wage structures and eliminate pay differences based on gender.
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 9 Given the application of job evaluation procedures to this new task, these procedures have again come under close technical scrutiny for the first time since they were first developed nearly 50 years ago. The psychometric bases of many of these procedures have been shown to be flawed, and a variety of problematic features have been identified, particularly those associated with social judgment biases (Treiman, 1979; Treiman and Hartmann, 1981 :Ch. 4; McArthur, in this volume). To the extent that job evaluation plans can be used to uncover and correct pay discrimination within firms, more systematic implementation of exist- ing job evaluation systems can help to reduce the male-female earnings gap. However, to the extent thatjob evaluation systems produce fallible measures of the worth of jobs, they are likely to underestimate the discriminately portion ofthe wage gap, for reasons discussed below. Hence, it is likely that a greater reduction of the gap could be achieved by eliminating the problems of measurement error and bias existing in current job evaluation schemes. It is in this role that the social sciences can be most useful. Industrial psychologists approach the problem of bias existing in job evaluation systems at the level of measurement, since it is at that level that one can investigate the role that social judgments play in introducing bias into the evaluation of the worth of jobs.4 As discussed below, there are three junctures in the use of job evaluation as a comparable worth strategy at which social judgments can introduce bias: deriving job descnptions, deter- mining a set of compensable factors and the weighting assigned to these factors, and evaluating the worth of jobs with respect to identified compen- sable factors. Job Descriptions Job evaluation systems depend on the ability of raters to describe ade- quately and fairly the tasks required for incumbents in jobs. Descnptions given by job incumbents, their supervisors, and expert raters of the qualifi- cations required to perform particular jobs tend to be substantially similar. Given the inherently subjective nature of the process, however, job descnp- tions are vulnerable to systematic errors and biases resulting from stereotyp- ing. Thus, to the extent that women's jobs are undervalued or seen as less responsible as a result of cultural stereotyping, job descriptions of women's jobs may be affected by expectancy bias and may not adequately reflect the abilities required to perform necessary job tasks. 4 This and the following sections rely heavily on the papers by McArthur and Schwab in this volume.
10 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN "Halo effects" and availability bias may also affect job descriptions. These effects occur when the same aspects of jobs are salient enough to affect one's perception of other aspects (halo effects) and when some of the most available or easily remembered information affects the perception of other aspects. The job descriptions may also reflect self-enhancement bias, since incumbents often enhance the amount of skill and ability needed for their own jobs. This is a particularly difficult problem in the comparable worth context, since research tentatively suggests that men are more likely than women to enhance descriptions of their abilities (McArthur, in this volume). Research questions that need to be addressed in the area of job descriptions include the following: · Are there sex differences in the degree of self-enhancement in job descriptions? · Under what circumstances and with respect to what attributes of jobs are descriptions by incumbents, supervisors, and experts most likely to differ? · How much agreement is there between raters as to how they describe jobs? · Does the degree of inter-rater agreement vary for incumbents, supervi- sors, and experts? · Are open-ended descriptions, checklists, or other techniques most likely to produce reliable results? · How does cultural stereotyping affect job descriptions? Are jobs per- ceived similarly when they are done by women and by men? Specifically, are responsibility and training time requirements downgraded in descriptions of jobs done mainly by women relative to objectively similar jobs performed mainly by men? What about other attributes of jobs? Compensable Factors and Weighting Although existing quantitative job evaluation systems vary in their details, they tend to share certain basic features. A set of attributes of jobs, called compensable factors, is designated and points are assigned to defined levels of each factor. For example, a factor of supervisory responsibility might be designated and a specified number of points assigned depending on the number of people supervised. Each job is evaluated or rated with respect to each of the compensable factors and points assigned. The points for each of the compensable factors are added up, and the total becomes the job worth or job evaluation score for the job in question. These total scores are then used to create a hierarchy of job worth, which is used, sometimes alone and sometimes with other information, to determine the pay rate for each job.
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 11 As is evident from this description, the relative ranking of jobs is heavily dependent on which attributes of jobs are designated as compensable factors and how much weight each factor is assigned (see Treiman, 1984a, for a discussion of this specific point). Historically, factors and factor weights have been chosen to maximize the prediction of existing pay rates, by capturing the implicit policy underlying a firm's existing pay structure. The difficulty with this approach, however, is that it has the effect of incorporat- ing any existing gender bias in wages and salaries (see Treiman and Hart- mann, 1981 :Ch. 4, for further discussion of this point). Even when factors and factor weights are chosen de nova, there is the possibility that traditional cultural stereotypes as to what is valued enter into the choice of compensable factors or the relative weight accorded various factors or bosh. For example, are coordinating activities, which tend to be characteristic of jobs performed mainly by women, identified as a compensable factor, and, if so, what is its weight relative to that of direct supervision, which tends to be characteristic of jobs performed mainly by men? Is being subjected to constant interrup- tions identified as an "unfavorable working condition" comparable to work- ing under noisy conditions? Specific research questions on this topic include the following: · What criteria are used for identifying compensable factors for existing job evaluation systems? · Does consensus exist across workers (and management) as to what job factors should be compensated? Does this consensus vary by sex? · Can job evaluation systems be developed by attempting to capture an underlying consensual basis for making equity judgments across jobs? (See Schwab, in this volume, for more discussion.) · Are there potential compensable factors in women's work that are not now recognized as legitimate bases for pay differentials? Are there legiti- mate bases for pay differentials that can be identified over and above the traditional factors of skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions? Are the compensable factors commonly used in job evaluation plans more relevant for men 's jobs than for those of women, so that men's jobs tend to be more favorably rated? Evaluation' of Jobs With Respect to Compensable Factors Evaluating the worth of jobs with respect to compensable factors is the final stage of the job evaluation process, and it too is subject to social judgment biases. There is preliminary evidence that, other things being equal, prestigious jobs or those with high salaries are rated more highly on compensable factors than lower-prestige and lower-paying jobs (McArthur, in this volume; Schwab, in this volume). This labeling bias is thus likely to
12 HARTMANN, R005, ACID TREIMAN result in overestimation of the worth of traditionally male jobs relative to those jobs held mainly by women. Psychologists view this labeling bias as one illustration of halo effects. As they operate in the present context, halo effects refer to the fact that positive or negative characteristics of jobs may bias the evaluation of other attributes. Thus, to the extent that information on the salary or prestige of jobs is available to raters, their evaluation of jobs with respect to compensable factors may be biased. In contrast, preliminary evidence also suggests that the sex composition of jobs does not affect raters' evaluations (Schwab, in this volume). Availability biases affect the evaluation of jobs with respect to compensa- ble factors as well as initial job descriptions. In this kind of bias, ratings may be affected by the job characteristics most easily remembered. Thus, to the extent that sex stereotyping is a salient characteristic of a job, job dimensions most in line with sex-role stereotypes (e.g., nurturance or compassion in female jobs) will be the most easily remembered. Research in the area of evaluating jobs with respect to compensable fac- tors should include two important issues: 1. Additional research is needed on whether, and if so how, the salary, prestige, and sex composition of jobs affect the evaluation of jobs with respect to compensable factors. 2. To investigate availability and expectancy biases, researchers should have job descriptions evaluated by several different raters with the order of job dimensions vaned; ways to reduce the possible negative effects of stereotyping on rating should be explored. More generally, we need studies of the overall effectiveness of reformed job evaluation plans: How effective are venous improvements in job evalua- tion systems in making them more useful tools in comparable worth cases? The effects of statistical adjustments to correct for the bias in weights based on market wage rates and of improvements in eliminating any gender bias from job descriptions and rating judgments are particular areas for examina- tion. The Economic Consequences of Implementing Comparable Worth This case [Lemons v. City and County of Denver, known as the Denver nurses' case] . . is pregnant with the possibility of disrupting the entire economic system of the United States of America.... What Dr. Bardwell [witness for the plaintiff] is saying is that I should open the Pandora's Box . . . of restructuring the entire economy of the United States of America. I am not going to do it.... It would be completely disruptive of our
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 13 way of life.... The overall result here, in my judgment, would be absolute chaos in the economy of the United States of America if any such program ever [were] adopted. Decision of Fred M. Winner, Apr~128, 1978 620 F.2d 228 (lOth Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 888 (1980) Currently there is virtually no research on whether the implementation of a comparable worth policy would contribute to the elimination of discrimina- tion from the U.S. labor market; there is also virtually no research investi- gating the effects on the U.S. economy of instituting such a policy. Judge Winner, in the quotation above, reflected the concern of many business leaders and others when he stated that implementing comparable worth would have disastrous consequences for our economic system. While there is currently no empirical evidence to support this assertion, there is also a lack of evidence for the contrary claim that comparable worth would have no negative consequences. Moreover, little detailed consideration has been given to strategies for adjusting pay rates according to comparable worth criteria, or to the consequences of alternative pay adjustment strategies (see, however, the discussion of statistical adjustments to achieve pay equity in Treiman and Hartmann, 1981:Ch. 4~. Various alternatives have been sug- gested, including raising the salaries of low-paying, women's jobs to the average level of salaries for comparable men's jobs in the same enterprise, lowering the salaries of men's jobs to equal those of comparable women's jobs, or, perhaps more realistically, raising the salaries of low-paying jobs at a faster rate than those of higher-paid jobs (a strategy used in Sweden, which has instituted a policy of higher proportional wage increases for those at the bottom of the wage hierarchy). The costs and benefits of comparable worth strategies also need to be compared with other equal employment opportu- nity and affirmative action policies, which have the same end goal of elimi- nating discrimination from the labor market but attack different parts of the problem and use different means with likely differing consequences. What sort of economic and noneconomic consequences would flow from each intervention strategy? In this context, it is important to delineate types of consequences in order to assess whether such effects are significant. For example, does instituting a comparable worth strategy increase inflation and, if so, by how much? Alternatively, if employers are required to pay higher salanes, they may compensate by not offering as many jobs, thus leading to disemployment. If so, how much disemployment would result? Assuming that women workers currently bear the financial cost of wage discrimination because of their location in low-paid employment, would such a cost be reallocated to other workers if comparable worth were adopted? Which workers would bear the brunt of any such consequences?
14 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN How do these costs differ from the costs imposed by other equal employment opportunity and affirmative action policies? In a theoretical discussion of likely effects of implementing various com- parable worth strategies, Bergmann (in this volume) speculates that wage realignment achieved by cutting salaries of (the mostly male) workers in high-paying jobs might result in substantial turnover. If, however, realign- ment were achieved by raising the salaries of low-paid (mostly female) jobs, firms would have to contend with an increase in payroll costs. Alternatively, firms could choose to increase the salaries of incumbents in low-paid jobs at a higher percentage rate than incumbents in high-paid employment, thereby reducing the likelihood of higher turnover and payroll costs. Killingsworth (in this volume), in contrast, argues that implementing comparable worth would result in increases in unemployment and disemployment, resulting in a reduction in output and an increase in consumer prices. There are at present no realistic scenarios of the economic effects of adopting this form of pay equity, and there is also a lack of agreement regarding what little evidence exists on the effects of instituting a compara- ble worth policy. The Australian experience is a prime case in point. In 1972 the Australian Federal Tribunal established a policy of equal pay for work of equal value. Ratner (1980) reports that once this policy was implemented in 1975 the earnings of women who worked full time increased 30 percent relative to those of their male counterparts. Moreover, some (Ratner, 1980; Gregory and Duncan, 1981) argue that the policy had no deleterious effects, while others (Killingsworth, in this volume) argue that institution of the policy increased unemployment and decreased job growth for women. In large measure, whether a comparable worth policy would have adverse employment and inflation effects depends on how much effect discrimina- tion has had in establishing the relative wages of male and female jobs and how much comparable worth wage adjustments correct (or possibly over- correct) for those effects. That is, economists generally believe that elimi- nating discrimination in pay rates would eventually lead to a more efficient, and more economically beneficial, allocation and utilization of human resources. Resources that are incorrectly priced are incorrectly used; the general tendency is to use too little of an overpriced resource and too much of an underpriced one. When prices are corrected, resources find their most productive use. Thus, while in the short run there might be dislocations of various kinds, in the long run, as resource reallocation occurred, eliminating wage discrimination would not be expected to cause either inflation or unemployment. There is a serious question, however, about whether com- parable worm policies provide a useful means of contributing to the ultimate goal of a discrimination-free labor market or whether other, more estab- lished policies, such as enforcement of Title VII, Title IX, and other sections
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 15 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, are sufficient or possibly more effective in the long run (see Killingsworth, in this volume). To estimate the economic consequences of the implementation of compa- rable worth strategies, a better understanding is needed of the extent of likely wage changes, their relationship to discrimination, various implementation or alternative strategies, and differential impacts on various groups of work- ers. This research area encompasses a number of important issues: · Labor market simulations of wage changes of the sort that would result from the implementation of comparable worth strategies could shed light on the likely effects of such changes on employment levels in different occupa- tions and on inflation or other macroeconomic phenomena. Simulations of discrimination-free labor markets, and resulting hypothetical wage rates and levels of employment in various occupations, could be used for comparison. · It is important to identify and estimate the extent of the economic effects of comparable worth strategies, particularly wage, price, and employment effects, and determine which groups of workers, employers, and consumers will be affected and how the effects will develop over time. Such research should include consideration of whether and how much employers might benefit from restructuring work, reduced turnover, increased satisfaction, and increased worker quality as well as the obvious costs; it should consider the extent of possible societywide benefits (such as higher incomes and reduced poverty) as well as the obvious issues of infla- tion and unemployment. What will be the net effect of comparable worth policies on national income distribution? · We need realistic scenarios of the financial cost to employers of imple- menting various comparable worth strategies. Such scenarios could be based on case studies of employers such as the city of San Jose and the state of Washington, where comparable worth policies have been implemented: What benefits accrue to firms and workers? Are job structures and career ladders rearranged? Do inequities reassert themselves following interven- tion? · Comparisons are needed of the costs and benefits of comparable worth strategies and other equal employment opportunity and affirmative action strategies. How successful have other strategies been? Have they been used sufficiently? The Process of Implementing Comparable Worth Comparable worth is a political as well as an economic issue. The courts, various state and federal legislative bodies, employers, employees, and unions are all involved in a complex process of building consensus, negotiat-
16 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMA11 ing strategies, and developing policy with respect to the implementation of comparable worm as a pay strategy. The reason for all this political activity is the persistent wage gap between men and women. Various sections of this report propose furler research on hypothesized explanations for the earn- ings differential (e.g., supply-side or demand-side explanations), ways to improve the efficiency of job evaluation systems (e.g., by eliminating social judgment biases), and the consequences of implementing a comparable worth strategy (e.g., on disemployment orinflation). In this section we turn to a different set of research issueshow interested parties reconcile their separate values in solving pay problems in the workplace (Remick and Steinberg, 1984~. The inherently political nature of comparable worm can be seen most clearly in the politicization of job evaluation. Job evaluation was, prior to the late 1970s, merely a set of formalized procedures used within firms for purposes of establishing pay rates forjobs. Few people other then industrial psychologists and personnel specialists gave much thought to the intricacies of various job evaluation plans in use in U.S. industries. Collett (1983:325) best sums up the important political role that job evaluation has come to play in recent years: Personnel professions should give thanks that because of "comparable worth" the process of evaluating positions and determining their monetary value has been raised from the level of technicians, arguing over "system" approaches, to the level of execu- tives and legislative bodies, deciding policy issues. This is because they have been forced by determined women to consider more than traditional technical factors in wage deter- mination as they have been told that traditional factors do not truly represent a non- discriminato~y basis for evaluating the work of employees in cross-occupational comparisons. While job evaluation plans are based on assumptions about rational eco- nomic behavior, in establishing pay rates managers must also respond to ongoing social dynamics within organizations (Rosenbaum, in this vol- ume). With the growing use of job evaluation systems in comparable worth contexts, the adoption of any plan depends on its credibility with various groups in the workplacethe pay rates set for jobs must satisfy manage- ment, employees, and labor unions. Job evaluation plans instituted in orga- nizations must thus satisfy perceptions of internal equity (i.e., jobs seen as comparable should be paid equivalent wages). With respect to comparable worth, job evaluation plans would be viewed as credible to the extent that gender is not a compensable factor. Factors that are compensated need to be directly and demonstrably job-related. One implication of these developments is that successful implementation
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 17 of job evaluation as a comparable worth strategy may require participation of all the various constituent groups management, workers, and their rep- resentatives. The benefit of such full participation in the process of devising or selecting job evaluation systems, other than the obvious one of enhancing perceptions of internal equity, is that scrutiny of pay plans would make their bases for pay (as well as their implicit value structures) more explicit. Plans open to such scrutiny would enable workers and management alike to iden- tify and correct specific instances of pay inequity. A growing number of firms have begun this process of developing job evaluation plans jointly through management and union negotiation, including AT&T (through its Joint Union-Management Occupational Job Evaluation Committee) and the Communications Workers of America (Hartmann and Treiman, 1984) although the reorganization of AT&T has slowed the process. While comparable worth has received the most attention in recent years, it is not the only strategy that has pay equity as a goal. Breaking down occupa- tional segregation by sex in the U.S. occupational structure is an alternative approach, although such segregation has proven quite resistant to change; the role of affirmative action is particularly important in eliminating sex segregation (Reskin and Hartmann, 19851. Implementing comparable worth thus requires investigation of the effect this policy would have on alternative strategies, such as efforts at job integration and affirmative action. In addition, the effects of comparable worth policies on other estab- lished wage negotiation mechanisms, such as management-union relations, need to be investigated. In light of these concerns, there are a number of researchable issues: · How is consensus among groups with different interests reached in identifying compensable factors for job evaluation systems? In defining internal equity? In defining criteria for weighting compensable factors? · What strategies for consensus building and negotiation would work best in reaching consensus on equity issues? · How do joint management-worker groups affect the implementation of comparable worm strategies? · What implications does implementing comparable worth in an organi- zation have for aff~rrnative action programs? For union activity? · What effect might race, ethnic, or regional differences have on imple- mentation strategies? · Exploratory case studies of organizations in which comparable worth is instituted could shed light on how implementation proceeds and on what problems emerge. · Assessments are needed of the success of comparable worth remedies that are now in effect or that may be ordered by the courts or negotiated by
18 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN unions and management. Do the remedies achieve the desired goals? Why or why not? RESEARCH ON WAGE DETERMINANTS AND WAGE DISCRIMINATION Pay-Setting Practices and Pay Differentials Within Organizations The pay and salary levels of different jobs within an enterprise are not automatically determined by the operation of abstract forces such as "the market" or "low valuation of women's work." They are rather the result of decisions made by individuals on an ongoing basis as they incorporate their perceptions and experience of market requirements, their beliefs and preju- dices, and so on. These decisions are poorly understood, partly because it is difficult for researchers to obtain access to data on individual firms. Hence, a host of questions on pay-setting practices and pay differentials, and on the impact of such practices and differentials on the gender gap in average pay, remain unanswered. In reviewing these questions in more detail, it is useful to divide them into two categories: (1) What practices determine access to desirable jobs and in particular limit the access of women workers to such jobs? (2) How are pay rates for different jobs determined and what factors determine lower pay forjobs held mainly by women? Job access One of the major reasons that women tend to earn less on average than men in the same enterprise is that women and men tend to hold different jobs, with women disproportionately concentrated in the low-paying jobs while men are in the high-paying jobs. While it has been recognized for some time that the level of occupational sex segregation in the labor force is high, the full extent of gender segregation within enterprises has not been clear until recent work by Bielby end Baron (1984a, 1984b). Using data from a sample of establishments in California, Bielby and Baron (1984b) found nearly complete job segregation by sex. In more than half the establishments they investigated, job classifications were completely segregated by sex and in only one-fifth were indices of segregation less than 90, meaning that 90 percent of the women (or men) would have to change jobs to have an occupational distribution identical to that of men (or women). Workplace segregation can take many forms. Complete job segregation occurs when firms hire only men or only women for particular jobs or when men and women are hired to do the same work but are given different job titles. Even when jobs are integrated, workplace segregation often occurs because men
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 19 and women in the same job titles are segregated spatially or because men and women deal only with clients of the same sex. Bielby end Baron (1984b) identify several determinants ofthis substantial job and workplace segregation. First, sex biases appear to exist in the alloca- tion of women and men to job ladders within firms, with men being assigned to longer end better-paid job ladders and women to truncated ladders. (How- ever, we know very little about promotion ladders, specifically, about the length of promotion chains, the average length of service at each level in the chain, the probability of skipping steps, and so forth.) Second, part of this sex-specific job assignment is the result of former legal restrictions on how much women can be required to lift. While these weight restrictions were eliminated in 1970, the institutionalization of such workplace practices as well as bureaucratic inertia means that differential assignment by sex in manufacturing jobs persists. Third, organizational scale is strongly associ- ated with sex segregation: larger workplaces have greater levels of sex segregation. Increasing organizational scale leads to the implementation of rationalized and bureaucratized personnel practices, rules, and procedures that operate, often with the sanction of collective bargaining agreements, to institutionalize and hence perpetuate workplace segregation. These findings suggest that organizational mechanisms may operate to sustain job and workplace segregation at such a level that women may seldom work in the same job as their male counterparts. Although we know thatjob segregation contributes to the male-female pay gap, we know little about the mechanisms that cause increasing proportions of women in a job to be associated with lower earnings. Knowing more about the mechanisms that lead to job segregation within firms will tell us more about the motivations of employers and workers and the extent to which intentional discrimination affects their behavior. If discrimination is a factor in assignment, it may also be a factor in the setting of relative wage rates of jobs. Segregationist attitudes and practices of employers also affect the supply of end demand for workers of various sexes in various jobs. Answers to a number of research questions are needed in this area: · What makes some jobs male in some workplaces but female in others (e.g., waiters, hairdressers)? · Which workplace practices tend to perpetuate job segregation by sex? For example, to what extent are gender differences built into the structure of jobs? Do women move up within "female" tracks and men in "male" tracks? Which practices tend to reduce sex segregation? · Which jobs have been successfully integrated? Do they remain so? · How does sex segregation affect the relative wage rates of men's and women's jobs?
20 Pay-Setting Practices HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN In addition to the mechanisms described above that tend to perpetuate workplace segregation, compensation systems within firms often set lower salaries for occupations held mainly by women than for those held mainly by men. According to economic theory, differential salaries are attributable both to differences in demand for certain jobs and to the differing amounts of availability of labor. Hence, those jobs most in demand and facing the most severe labor shortages should command the highest salaries. Yet pay scales often seem relatively unresponsive to market forces. The nursing profession is a case in point. Despite shortages of nurses in recent years, nursing salaries have not increased substantially relative to other salaries. Instead, hospitals have used nonwage forms of competition to attract nurses (offering one-time bonuses, recruiting nurses from abroad, and so forth). Hospitals also rarely differentiate different nursing specialities in compensation (Remick, 19841. Case studies of sala~y-setting practices in hospitals would thus be very illuminating. For people employed in large organizations in the private sector and in public institutions, wages are likely to be determined by institutionalized procedures. Thus, for a large segment of the U.S. work force, job salaries are a function of intraorganizational wage-setting practices that may adjust only slowly, if at all, to changes in the supply and demand for labor outside the firm or agency. Many large firms organize their internal labor markets into career ladders; they often promote from within and may have unique demands for labor that they supply with their own workers. Relative wage rates also reflect the values of management and must be responsive to employee perceptions of equity within an organization. More generally, there is a strong need for additional organizational case studies of the kind Rosenbaum (in this volume) reports. Such studies would help us better understand how wages are actually set within enterprises. Specifically, we need to know more about the use of formal or informal job evaluation procedures; the ways in which job evaluation results are used in the wage-setting process; the ways market wages are taken into account through surveys and other means; whether, to what extent, and under what circumstances wages are adjusted to reflect market forces; the role of man- agement-labor negotiations in the way wages are set for specific jobs; and, finally, what kinds of seniority rules, shift differentials, and bonuses exist for which kinds of jobs. Ideally such information would be available for a representative sample of enterprises, so that it would be possible to under- stand variations in the wage-setting process for enterprises in different sec- tors. Analysis ofthis kind would go a long way toward helping us understand
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 21 the role of organizations in creating and perpetuating pay differences between women and men. A research agenda in the area of intraorganizational practices affecting compensation would include investigation into both the determinants of workplace segregation (discussed above) and wage-setting practices within organizations. One way to approach these issues would be to study how wage structures are developed in new occupations, industries, and organiza- tions. Are wage structures (i.e., job hierarchies with respect to worth) estab- lished de nova or do they mimic hierarchies already existing in other organizations? Most important, does sex typing of new jobs or occupations occur before or after wage assignment? Other questions for research include the following: · How are surveys of salaries and wages in other firms used by employers in the wage determination process? What other mechanisms are there for "market forces" to enter into a firm's wage-setting practices? · Are some firms relatively insulated from market forces in setting their wage rates? How does degree of insulation vale by size of firm, region, industry, occupation, size, and so on? · To what extent are other employers in local labor markets affected by the wage-setting practices of large organizations? · Are there any strategies used at the organizational level to adjust the internal wage hierarchy produced by existing job evaluation systems to take into account changes in supply and demand or other factors? · Do newly developed job evaluation systems tend to incorporate tradi- tional values? To respond to current market conditions? · What would occupational wage levels be in the absence of sex-based wage discrimination? In the absence of other forms of employment discrimi- nation as well? · What have been the effects of significant influxes of women into tradi- tionally male jobs (or men into traditionally femalejobs) on the status and the wage rates associated with those jobs (e.g., lawyers, doctors, bus drivers, bakers)? -r - - ~ ~ Occupational Choice, Careers, and Work Histories In the previous section we noted the very substantial segregation of men and women into different jobs within enterprises. Much of that within-firm segregation reflects occupational segregation (and, as we noted, some of it is firm-specific segregation even of integrated occupations). Considering the labor force as a whole, there is a strong tendency for men and women to work
22 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN at entirely different occupations.5 Women are concentrated in nursing, school teaching, retail sales, clerical work, a variety of service occupations, and some factory jobs, in particular those involving hand-assembly; more- over, most workers in these occupations and jobs are women. In contrast, many professions and managerial occupations, most non-retail-sales occu- pations, and almost all craft and laboring occupations are performed mainly by men. For some of these occupations people train in advance and seek employment in the area of their training; for other occupations people are likely to be assigned by employers. There is substantial disagreement among researchers as to whether the extent of occupational segregation results mainly from discriminatory factors or mainly from the choice of individual workers. The research issue is concerned with determining to what extent women choose to supply themselves to jobs with low wages as opposed to their being denied equivalent access to higher-paying male employment. Thus, the interest is in distinguishing between choice and constraint as explanations for why women are concentrated disproportionately in low- paying jobs (leaving aside for the moment the possibility thatjobs pay poorly because women do them). Arguments based on the human capital perspective in economics gener- ally hold that men and women have different "tastes" for employment (see Marini and Brinton, 1984, for a review of these arguments). According to this view, because they anticipate greater family responsibilities, women choose less demanding jobs or choose to invest less in education and on-the- job training; hence they are less able to compete with men for high-paying employment. Men's greater earnings are also seen as deriving from their greater work experience and more stable work history. The assumption is that a woman's marital and childbearing responsibilities disrupt her labor force continuity and hence negatively affect her earning power vis-a-vis men. Alternatives to the human capital approach focus on demand-side factors, arguing that women do not have equal access to high-paying jobs held disproportionately by men because of unequal access to information, train- ing, or the jobs themselves. Theorists accepting this explanation for the male-female earnings gap stress institutional mechanisms that limit access for example, as we have already noted, job ladders and other intraorgan~za- 5 It is useful in- discussions of this kind to distinguish between jobs and occupations. Jobs are specific positions in specific settings, e.g., professor of sociology at UCLA, driver for Checker Cab Company in Washington, D.C., and so on. There can be one or more persons in each job. Occupa- tions are aggregations of jobs requiting similar skills and responsibilities and involving the perfor- mance of similar tasks, e.g., college and university professors, sociology; taxi drivers; and so on. Both jobs and occupations can be defined at varying levels of detail or aggregation.
AIV AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 23 tional mechanisms that limit women's mobility within organizations (see Roos and Reskin, 1984, for en overview). Outside these two main currents of explanation, additional factors affect the extent of sex segregation. For example, occupational sex segregation is expected to decline somewhat through the remainder of this decade because of the increasing integration of occupations, but anticipated rapid growth of occupations that traditionally have been held by women will prevent its further decline (Belier and Han, 19841. These and other factors affecting occupational sex segregation need furtherinvestigation. (For a review of the possible effects of demographic and economic pressures on occupational segregation, see Cain, in this volume; for a general review of what is known about occupational sex segregation, see Reskin and Hartmann, 1985.) Research in this area can help us weigh the relative importance of choice, training and education, limited access, and so on, in the perpetuation of both occupational segregation and the pay gap. Research topics fall into two broad areas: (1) occupational choice and labor supply and (2) occupational careers and work histories. Occupational Choice and Labor Supply Occupational choice and labor supply issues are relatively well covered by ongoing research (see Marini and Brinton, 1984, for an overview). From one perspective, occupational choice and other labor supply explanations for the wage gap concentrate on the characteristics of workers themselves that lead to employment in sex-typical jobs. In this view, sex differences in socialization create sex-specific characteristics of workers, such as occupa- tional preferences or skills. Thus males and females are viewed as develop- ing very different expectations about the type of work they will do, and even about what work is appropriate for them to do, as adults. Marini end Brinton (1984) provide evidence that occupational aspirations among children are highly sex-typed, so that segregation with respect to aspirations is almost as great as the actual occupational segregation of the employed labor force. Occupational expectations are even more sex-typed than- aspirations, suggesting that even when girls aspire to nontraditional employment their expectations tend to be more sex-typical. These differen- tial aspirations and expectations reflect sex-role socialization that occurs in families, in schools, from textbooks and other educational material, from television and other mass media, and through career guidance counselors and vocational education, all of which operate to encourage boys and girls to aspire to sex-traditional employment. While we know that aspirations and expectations play a role in determin- ing adult occupational attainment, there is little evidence on how important
24 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TRElMAN that role is or the process whereby such aspirations translate into attainment. And further research to determine the factors identified by the human capital school, discussed above, is also needed: Do women's expectations about family responsibilities affect their occupational choice? How? A research agenda in the area of occupational choice would include the following questions: 6 · What is the relationship between the sex-typing of occupational aspi- rations (as well as expectations) and attainments? To what extent does sex-typing in occupational aspirations account for sex segregation in employment? · How do occupational aspirations and expectations change overtime? · To what extent do sex differences in ability, skill, or commitment account for differences in occupational placement? · How might changes be effected in the labor supply to various jobs? For example, what would be needed to persuade men to enter traditionally female jobs? · To what extent do people take jobs that are available to them, rather than undergoing an elaborate job search process? To what extent does sex- typing occur at the personnel office rather than because of individual choice? · How do the policies of the armed services' excluding women from certain occupational specialties affect women's job choices? · To the extent that marital responsibilities affect women's occupational choices, we would expect women more often than men to choose easy-ent~y/ easy-exit jobs in which skills do not depreciate. To what extent are women more likely than men to work in such jobs? · To what extent do women and men have specific occupational knowl- edge about jobs traditionally held by the opposite sex? To what extent does this affect occupational choice? How effective is advertising the pay rates of jobs in increasing the number of women who apply to traditionally male, higher-paying jobs? · What is known about the influence of demographic and economic pressures on occupational sex segregation and prospects for pay equity? Further research (in the form of simulation models) is needed to assess likely future levels of sex segregation. Specifically, such models should include research on the age structure of the labor force and of occupations, age differences in job and occupational mobility, differences in cohort size, effects of changes in sex composition on occupational wages, training and skill needs, and whether job export and displacement by technology will have differential effects on the pay and employment prospects of men and women. 6 The first three research topics are taken from Marini end Bnnton (1984).
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 25 Occupational Careers and Work Histories The relevance of occupational careers and work histories derives from the role of labor force experience in explaining the wage gap between men and women. As described above, most supply-side explanations for the earnings gap make the claim that women's lower earnings relative to men's are attributable in large measure to gender differences in the extent and pattern of work experience. Specifically, the argument is made that women earn less than men do because their participation in the labor force is intermittent and hence their total amount of accumulated experience is low relative to that of their male counterparts. In order to test these expectations, researchers need continuous work history data that describe how men and women organize their work lives. Currently there is available for the United States only one major data set with continuous work histories for men the 1968 Johns Hopkins Life History Survey of a sample of men ages 30 to 39 and none for women (Treiman, 1984b). The National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Force Experience provide data on job and occupation changes at fixed points in time for samples of both men and women for several consecutive years. The Panel Study on Income Dynamics provides similar data for a sample of families who have been followed since 1968. Their longitudinal nature makes these samples very valuable, but, because they do not contain contin- uous work histories, they do not include all job transitions. What we do know about sex differences in work experience comes from survey data about events at particular points in the socioeconomic life cycle (i.e., first job, current job, job 5 years ago). From such data it is clear that differences in total amount of labor force participation affect women's occu- pational opportunities (see Treiman, 1984b, for en overview). We also know that the age pattern of women's labor force participation has changed sub- stantially since the turn of the century. Fewer women drop out of the labor force to have children; indeed, among the youngest cohorts of women, practically no dip in labor force participation is observed during the peak childbearing years. To the extent that continuous participation affects occu- pational mobility, one might expect women's occupational prospects to increase in the future. The problem with this expectation, however, is that current women workers with continuous labor force attachment have an occupational distribution that is very different from that of men. This finding suggests that continuous attachment may not benefit women workers in the same way it does men (see Roos, 1983, for a review and partial test of this proposition). Some researchers have approached these issues by aggregating individual work histories into job or career trajectories in which the question of interest is the pattern of variation in occupational status or income over the course of the career. Our concern is whether men or women, or women with differing
26 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN family responsibilities, have similar career trajectories. Although such questions are only now beginning to be addressed, preliminary indications are that women have much flatter occupational status and earnings trajecto- ries than do men (Treiman, 1984b). But the reasons for this are far from being adequately understood. Moreover, studies of this topic implicitly assume that most workers have orderly career progressions, although this has not been empirically established; indeed, available evidence (e.g., Evans and Laumann, 1983) suggests the contrary. There are many questions for future research in this area: · Do orderly job trajectories (successive jobs) exist at all and, if so, for what categories of workers? · Do men and women have different career trajectories? Do men and women with differing levels of family responsibilities differ in their job trajectories? · To what extent do formal career paths (established by the organization) and informal career paths (the actual pattern followed by individuals) corres- pond? · What are the effects of career ladders (or job tracks) on wage assign- ment? For example, are salaries higher for jobs leading to key parts of the organization? · What are the patterns of shifts in and across jobs? Will women who have moved into traditionally male jobs remain in these jobs or will they shift into traditionally female jobs? · What is the role of occupational experience in enhancing earnings? Is experience worth more in some kinds of jobs than in others? Is experience worth more in the sorts of jobs men tend to hold than those women tend to hold? · How does experience enhance productivity? Is it actually increased productivity that is rewarded, or simply seniority? How does this differ across different sorts of jobs? · Do labor force experience, occupational experience, and firm-specific experience differ in their impact on earnings? Can such differences help explain gender differences in earnings? Occupational differences in earn- ings? Culture: Beliefs About Gender and Jobs The NRC Committee on Occupational Classification and Analysis (Treiman and Hartmann, 1981) concluded that there is no strictly scientific or technical basis for determining the relative worth of jobs, because "worth" is ultimately a matter of values. (The report noted, however, that once criteria of worth are agreed to, the establishment of job worth hierar-
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 2 7 chies is amenable to technical solutions.) For this reason, it is important to investigate the varying and competing belief systems underlying the value judgments made about different kinds of jobs and workers. While the cen- trality of the concepts of worth and value to wages is questioned by econo- mists, who view wages as prices that signal us about the allocation of scarce resources, most economists would acknowledge that cultural beliefs and practices do play a role in wage determination. There is some evidence that virtually all societies with wage economies value similar attributes of jobs, since the relative prestige of occupations is essentially similar throughout the world and similar attributes of jobs- mainly skill and responsibility account for their relative prestige (Treiman, 19771. There is also some evidence of consensus within societies regarding what constitutes a "just wage" for different sorts of jobs (Jasso and Rossi, 19771. The available evidence is highly aggregated, however; it refers to very general categories of occupations end to measures such as "prestige" or "just wages" rather than to more specific attributes of value of the kind that would differentiate jobs within individual enterprises. Research is needed on how more generalized cultural beliefs are transformed in workplaces and used as guides in determining wage rates and in assigning "appropriate" jobs to men and women and on what employers and workers value about jobs in specific settings. With respect to the first issue, the use of generalized cultural beliefs in workplaces, it would be of interest to know if there are "folk" models that people use to justify setting differential wages for traditionally male and female jobs. For example, one very important belief system affecting the setting of pay rates in our society is the equation of the worth of jobs with existing pay rates and the belief that wages are determined largely or solely by the operation of the laws of supply and demand. That in actual practice supply and demand may not always be the determining factors or that many factors such as discrimination affect supply and demand may not alter the underlying belief. Furthermore, why are the value systems observed in the workplace often contradictory? For example, night work was historically viewed as appro- priate for nurses but not for other jobs, in which women were competing more directly with men. What are the factors that led to a shift in values during World War II so that, once women were needed for the war effort as riveters, welders, and other skilled workers, their suitability for such blue- collar skilled work was no longer questioned? Why is it that certain "dirty" jobs traditionally held by men are considered inappropriate for women, particularly for white women while nursing, which also involves "dirti- ness," is not, and other dirty jobs such as cleaning are often associated with minority women?
28 HARTMANN, ROOS, ACID TREIMAN How do cultural constructions of gender, of what it means to be a man or a woman, affect employers' and workers' notions of appropriate jobs for women and men and appropriate wage levels for those jobs? What role does the widely shared belief that women are and should be primarily responsible for household and family care play, in the labor market? Historians have shown how specific cultural constructions of gender have shaped women's lives and influenced perceptions of women as workers (Cott, 1977; Eisen- stein, 1983~; similar analyses are needed for the present. In recent years, scholars of labor studies have developed the concept of work culture to describe the set of beliefs and practices that govern interactions at work (Melosh, 19821; work cultures, too, legitimate or challenge current cultural constructions of work appropriate for women and men. With respect to the second issue what employers and workers value about jobs in specific settings it would be of interest to know how such values are formed, what they are, and how they change. Is there consensus that jobs requiring more skill, responsibility, and effort or those performed under difficult or unpleasant conditions deserve more pay? What about specific measures of these attributes? Even if there is consensus that skill should be rewarded, is there agreement that formal education, years of experience required to become highly qualified, specialized knowledge, or other specific indicators are appropriate measures of skill? What about the skills that many women have as a result of caring for families and keeping households running? Are these acknowledged in the workplace? If consen- sus is lacking with respect to particular classes or measures, is lack of agreement systematic? That is, do employers and employees disagree in systematic ways? Do male and female workers disagree? What about man- ual and nonmanual workers? In short, we need to know far more than we do now about perceptions of what attributes of jobs should be compensated. Apart from assumptions about the value of different attributes of jobs, there is reason to believe that pay rates are affected by assumptions about the value of different sorts of workers. Historically in the United States it was considered appropriate to pay blacks less than whites and women less than men for doing the same job. Indeed, until passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such distinctions were often incorpo- rated into law, e.g., lower pay for women being explicitly justified on the grounds that men needed higher pay in order to support their families (Kessler-Harris, 1982; May, 19821. Currently, such overt wage discrimina- tion is illegal, and the wage gap between men and women doing the same work has probably narrowed considerably. Shifting values have now led some groups to argue that women and men should in general earn similar salaries even though they typically work in different types of jobs. It is suggested that "women's work" and women themselves need to be reval- ued hence the interest in the comparable worth strategy.
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 29 The overall research issue that emerged from deliberations at the Seminar on Comparable Worth Research is the role that underlying belief systems play in the setting of wages, particularly in the explanation of why men's and women's jobs are valued differently. Our proposed research agenda on underlying belief systems focuses on three major topics: (1) What are the varying belief systems that currently influence the wage-setting process? (2) Is the differential evaluation of male and female tasks reflected in the wage-assignment process? If so, how? and (3) How are competing belief systems reflected in existing job evaluation systems? Existence of BeliefSystems There are several research areas that promise to increase our knowledge of how alternative belief systems may affect the wage-setting process. Ques- tions for research include the following: · Discourse analysis is a method used by anthropologists, linguists, psy- chologists, and philosophers of language to investigate verbal or written texts. Would this method usefully uncover the basic assumptions or beliefs about individuals and cultures that underlie the wage-setting process? · What belief systems underlie workers' occupational choices? For example, do some beliefs lead men to ha. ~~nint~.r~~.~tr~ in ~vnrlrina in into in which women predominate? ~ TV_~ ^~^ ~ ~ A44 J~JV~I AAA · Are peoples' judgments about what salaries should be (i.e., deserved salaries) very different from actual salaries (i.e., existing salaries)? How do peoples' judgments about deserved salaries evolve? · How do ideas based in economics affect people's views of the value of work and the appropriate salaries for people and jobs? Do people's valua- tions of jobs reflect, for example, their understanding of their relative value to employers based on their productivity? Do they affect their understanding of shortages or excess supply? · With changes in the technology of work, how will the evaluation of men's and women's work change? Does technology contribute to establish- ing new bases for consensus about the evaluation of men's and women's jobs? · Do the assumptions regarding the setting of wages for part-time work differ from those for full-time work? To what extent are part-time salaries lower because employers view incumbents (generally women) in those jobs as secondary workers? Analysis of Task and Wage Assignment In addition to knowing what belief systems underlie the wage-setting process, it is important to consider how these belief systems become incor-
30 HARTMANN, ROOS, AND TREIMAN porated into the wage-setting process. In this context, we propose research on the identification of "male" and "female" tasks and a determination of whether such tasks are differentially valued: · What are the component tasks required in jobs that are perceived as female or male? Are these also sex-typed? · If tasks are identified as male or female, are male tasks more highly valued? Does adding female tasks (e.g., typing, nurturing, waiting on tables, clerical work) to job descriptions reduce the perceived value of a job? · Does the established consensus about the worth of tasks in jobs decline if the number of women entering the field increases? Do the tasks change? · If female tasks orjobs are less positively evaluated, how does this affect the compensation assigned? BeliefSystems and lob Evaluation Job evaluation systems always embody a particular value system. When a firm adopts a specific job evaluation system, it accepts a particular set of values according to which jobs are hierarchically arrayed. Because job evaluation schemes are used in a large, possibly increasing, number of firms, it is important that researchers investigate the belief systems underly- ing existing job evaluation plans: · Is there general societal consensus regarding which attributes of jobs ought to be compensated and regarding the relative importance of various attributes? If not, do workers and management value attributes of jobs differently? · Do men and women value attributes of jobs differently? · What belief systems underlie the various job evaluation systems cur- rently in use in U.S. firms? How are these beliefs reflected in the compensa- ble factors and weighting scheme of current systems? CONCLUSION Comparable worth claims and strategies for adjusting wages based on such claims need to be understood as part of the larger process of wage determination and as one of several means of wage adjustments. In this context we need to know much more about how wages are actually deter- mined within fimns; about how people's attitudes and beliefs influence wages; about how workers' behavior theirjob choices, theirinvestment in traininginfluence their labor market outcomes; and so on. With regard to wage adjustment strategies relevant to comparable worth claims, job evalua-
AN AGENDA FOR BASIC RESEARCH ON COMPARABLE WORTH 31 tion plans are clearly an important element, and a considerable portion ofthe discussion at Me seminar was devoted to research designed to improve job evaluation plans. Equally important, however, are the conditions that lead to the successful implementation of job evaluation plans or other methods of achieving pay equity and the economic consequences of implementing com- parable worth policies relative to those of other equal employment opportu- nit:y policies. Some of the research that we suggest represents continuation and exten- sion of already-established research areas (such as research on discnmina- tion, job choice, and work careers), and some represents new departures (the role of cultural beliefs in wage setting) or new directions (job evaluation methodology, consensus building in the workplace). The accomplishment of this research would have substantial results not only for achieving a better understanding of comparable worth, pay equity, and equal employment opportunity issues, but also for improving our understanding of work and workplaces, wage setting, gender inequality, and social change more gener- ally. REFERENCES Belter, Andrea H., and Kee-ok Kim Han 1984 Occupationalsex segregation: Prospects for the 1980s. Pp. 91-114inBarbaraF. Reskin, ea., Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanations, Remedies. Committee on Women's Employment and Related Social Issues. Washington, D.C.: National Acad- emy Press. Bielby, William T., and James N. Baron 1984a Men and Women at Work: Gender Segregation Within and Across Organizations. Unpublished paper, University of California, Santa Barbara. 1984b A woman's place is with other women: Sex segregation within organizations. Pp. 27-55 in Barbara F. Reskin, ea., Sex Segregation in the Workplace: Trends, Explanations, Remedies. Committee on Women's Employment and Related Social Issues. Washing- ton, D.C.: National Academy Press. Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. 1984 Pay Equity and Comparable Worth. A BNA Special repon. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs. Cain, Pamela Stone 1985 The role of the social sciences in the comparable worth movement. Forthcoming in R. Lance Shotland and Melvin M. Mark, eds., Social Science and Social Policy. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications. Collett, Merrill J. 1983 Comparable worth: An overview. Public Personnel Management. Special IssueCom- parable Worth. 12(Winter):325-33 1. Colt, Nancy 1977 The Bands of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1970-1835. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
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