Effects of referents’ gender and hierarchical level on employees’ satisfaction with pay

Ataay A.

Social Behavior and Personality, vol.46, no.10, pp.1623-1636, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.2224/sbp.7023
  • Title of Journal : Social Behavior and Personality
  • Page Numbers: pp.1623-1636


My aim was to explain gender differences in relation to pay level satisfaction using social comparison theory. I investigated the relative effects of referents' gender and pay level on pay satisfaction levels of men and women, exploring how referents shape individuals' pay satisfaction. The results validate prior research findings showing women have greater pay satisfaction than men have. In contrast to previous research, I found that referents' pay level was more important than gender in explicating men's and women's pay satisfaction levels. However, this association is limited. Even when women compared themselves with referents at the same levels as the men were using as comparison, women's pay level satisfaction differed from that of the men in that women have relatively lower pay level satisfaction because of upward comparisons. This suggests that women are needed as managerial role models in organizations to improve other women's expectations of pay and accomplishments, and top executives need to encourage women, so they are not undervalued or underemployed.