It may come as little surprise that men benefit from having more authority in the workplace than women. And with the authority comes more job control and higher earnings.
New research expands on this observation and explores how the benefits of authority are not evenly distributed for women and men.
University of Toronto sociologist Dr. Scott Schieman found key differences between men and women in both the levels and implications of greater job authority.
First, roughly 24 percent of men report managerial authority compared to only 16 percent of women.
Moreover, the association between managerial authority and job autonomy is stronger among men compared to women. In other words, men who achieved the highest levels of structural power are more likely to perceive their jobs as more autonomous and influential.
When they shared the same high level of authority in the workplace, men are more likely than women to feel they have decision-making freedom and greater influence about what happens on the job.
The study also replicates the longstanding pattern that, at the same level of managerial authority, women tend to earn less income than men. However, the authors did not find any evidence that the rewards of job authority differed for older versus younger workers.
In the study, Schieman and his colleagues measured a range of work conditions using data from the Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Study (CAN-WSH), a large national survey of Canadian workers.
To assess levels of job authority, they asked study participants: “Do you supervise or manage anyone as part of your job?” “Do you influence or set the rate of pay received by others?” and “Do you have the authority to hire or fire others?” Workers with both supervisory and sanctioning responsibilities were classified as having “managerial authority.”
“Forms of job control — especially job autonomy — are highly coveted resources for many workers,” Schieman said.
“We know that job resources like authority and autonomy or income tend to bundle together. And yet, our research suggests that the bundling of these job rewards continue to differ for women and men.”
Investigators say their analyses ruled out the possibility that differences in occupation level, job sector, work hours, job stress, and marital or parental statuses might be producing these differences.
Schieman believes the findings show that even when women attain greater authority at work, the structural features of power remain male-dominated.
Source: University of Toronto