Power perks lacking for women bosses

U. TORONTO (CAN) — Having more authority in the workplace comes with many rewards, but a new study shows the benefits aren’t evenly distributed among women and men.

Researchers 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—and 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—within a broad range of different occupations—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 long-standing pattern that, at the same level of managerial authority, women tend to earn less income than men. By contrast, the authors did not find any evidence that the rewards of job authority differed for older versus younger workers.

For the study, published in Sociological Perspectives, researchers measured a range of work conditions using data from the Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Study, 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,” says Scott Schieman, sociologist at the University of Toronto. “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.”

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.

“Our findings shed new light on an age-old question: Who benefits more from authority in the workplace?” Schieman says. “The patterns we discover suggest that even when women ‘lean in’ and attain greater authority at work, the structural features of power have different consequences for the subjective experience of autonomy and influence in ways that favor men.”

Source: University of Toronto