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Are women really that happy at work? Australian evidence on the ‘contented female’

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This article investigates the apparent paradox of females possessing higher levels of job satisfaction compared to their male counterparts despite possessing worse employment outcomes. Postulating that the female workforce is heterogeneous by age, education and the presence of children, we create four groups; the aggregated, young and childless, young with children and the educated. The article finds statistical evidence of significant gender differences, though not uniformly so. Econometric results, however, paint a muddier picture, indicating that statistical results alone should not be used to categorically report incidences of gender differences in job satisfaction. Sample-selection bias results also evince sub-group heterogeneity and require further study. The determinants of job satisfaction vary between measures and sub-groups, though not necessarily so across gender. In sum, the article finds that the paradox does exhibit itself for the aggregated and young and childless sub-groups, but is largely absent for the young with children group. As well, there is a clear bifurcation in job satisfaction between genders for the educated sub-group. This suggests that employed females should not be viewed as a monolithic bloc in the labour force.
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Keywords: A13; J16; J28; gender; job satisfaction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Economics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, 4072, Australia 2: Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith University, Nathan, 4111, Australia 3: School of Business, University of Western Sydney, Parramatta, 2751, Australia

Publication date: 2014-03-03

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