Are women really that happy at work? Australian evidence on the 'Contented Female'

Kifle, Temesgen and Kler, Parvinder (2011). Are women really that happy at work? Australian evidence on the 'Contented Female'. In: HILDA Conference 2011 proceedings. 2011 HILDA Survey Research Conference, Melbourne, VIC, Australia, (1-32). 14-15 July 2011.

Attached Files (Some files may be inaccessible until you login with your UQ eSpace credentials)
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Kifle, Temesgen
Kler, Parvinder
Title of paper Are women really that happy at work? Australian evidence on the 'Contented Female'
Conference name 2011 HILDA Survey Research Conference
Conference location Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Conference dates 14-15 July 2011
Proceedings title HILDA Conference 2011 proceedings   Check publisher's open access policy
Place of Publication Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Publisher Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research
Publication Year 2011
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
ISBN 9780734042538
Start page 1
End page 32
Total pages 32
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This paper investigates the apparent paradox of females possessing higher levels of job satisfaction compared to their male counterparts despite having (on average) less secure jobs, lower promotion opportunities and receiving lower take home pay. Using panel of HILDA Waves 1-8, we test the four main theories that attempt to explain the aforementioned genderjob satisfaction paradox; these being (a) differing gender expectations, (b) sample selection bias, (c) gender-bifurcated personal and employment characteristics as well as (d) genderdivergent work values.

A parsimonious sweep of the statistical analysis finds in favour of the paradox, thus justifying a more in-depth investigation. Postulating that female (but not male) entry into the workforce is heterogenous by age, education and the presence of children, this paper divides the genders into four groups; the aggregated, educated, young and childless as well as young (irrespective of parental status). As well, we expand our study to encapsulate not just overall job satisfaction but also five other aspects of job satisfaction – satisfaction with pay, satisfaction with job security, satisfaction with the type of work undertaken, satisfaction with the hours worked and satisfaction with work-life balance.

The paper finds evidence of significant gender differences in employment characteristics in all four groups, and while gender differences are less apparent with regard to personal characteristics, they do however appear in both the employed-only as well as overall samples.
As well, sample selection bias does not appear to be present in our study. Further statistical analysis also indicates that across the six measure of satisfaction, females do report higher rates of satisfaction relative to males across the four groups, though this is weaker for the educated group. As well, changes over time are observed for the educated and young (childless) groups. Ordered probit results that control for expectations and characteristics paint a muddier picture however. There are no longer any gender differences in satisfaction across all six measures for the young (childless), while for the educated group, females are ess satisfied with two measures with another two being statistically insignificant. The paradox is still somewhat apparent for the young (irrespective of parental status), while only exhibiting its presence strongly in the case of the aggregated group, though even then not uniformly so.

In sum, the paper finds that the paradox does exhibit itself when employed females are not disaggregated by age, education and parental status. The paradox weakens and even disappears when such factors are incorporated into the analysis. This suggests that employed females should not be viewed as a monolithic block in the labour force and may also intimate that the ‘lower expectations’ hypothesis for females may not extinguish over time as they become even more significant players in the employment market; instead, expectations may change among females depending on their education and parental status.
Q-Index Code EX
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Presented by The Melbourne Institute and the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: Non HERDC
School of Economics Publications
Available Versions of this Record
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 19 Jul 2011, 15:10:56 EST by Dr Temesgen Kifle on behalf of School of Economics