Getting the salary you deserve: an examination of the impact of gender differences in entitlement of accepted salaries

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Corbett, Tania J.

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University of Guelph


Considerable research establishing gender differences in perceptions of entitlement has been completed. Previous investigations have examined entitlement as an isolated experience and have not examined its impact on the outcome variables implied in the literature (i.e., accepted salary and satisfaction with salary), and have traditionally focused on undergraduate or recent graduate samples. The current dissertation tested the assumption that women's depressed perceptions of entitlement lead to lower salaries, within a group of unemployed mid-career adults. In Study 1, 174 (100 men, 74 women) mid-career professional adults who had recently become unemployed were asked to complete a survey regarding their perceptions of entitlement in their next job. Psychological reaction to job loss was also measured in terms of self-esteem, attributions and expectations for re-employment. Because it is well established in the literature that men earn and feel entitled to more than women, entitlement relative to pay in last role was examined. Not surprisingly, men in the sample earned more and felt entitled to more than the women; however, women felt entitled to relatively more than they had been earning, while men felt entitled to approximately the same. The gender difference in relative entitlement was significant. There were no gender differences in terms of psychological reactions to job loss. In Study 2, 68 (39 men, 29 women) participants from Study 1 completed a second survey following their acceptance of a new job. Respondents indicated the salary that they accepted, the negotiation tactics they used to obtain that salary and their satisfaction with the accepted salary. Results suggest that the relationship between entitlement, salary accepted and satisfaction is significant for women, but not for men. For the women in the study, perceptions of entitlement mediated the relationship between past pay and salary accepted, whereas it did not for men. Also, women's satisfaction with salary accepted was significantly more related to perceptions of entitlement than it was for men. No gender differences in negotiation behaviors (i.e., propensity to negotiate, tactics used or outcomes) were observed. Taken together, these studies establish the first empirical link between perceptions of entitlement and salary accepted and satisfaction with salary within a sample of fulltime professionals. However, the findings suggest that these relationships may only be significant for women. Implications and potential interpretations of the findings are discussed in terms of the uniqueness of the sample, system justification theory, women's stages of adult development, and the possibility that the gender wage gap landscape may be changing.



salary, gender differences, entitlement, accepted salary, gender wage gap