Date of Award

12-1-2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Stockdale, Margaret

Abstract

Gender differences in salaries are prominent in most fields. Several laws exist to decrease the amount of pay discrimination and provide remedies for discriminatory organizational behaviors, yet these laws have proven insufficient to eradicate pay inequities. One source for such discrimination in pay stems from the evaluation of employee performance. Performance appraisal systems can be biased in very small ways that yield larger negative effects on later employment-related decisions, such as compensation. The goal of this study was to examine decision-making processes and conclusions raters make during the evaluation of employees. It was expected that the type of presentation and the content of the ratings of performance sub-dimensions would affect gender differences in composite ratings, salary increases, and merit bonuses. Specifically, women were expected to be rated lower when employee performance information was presented sequentially, where it would be harder to directly compare one employee with another and thus not mitigate sex bias. Comparatively, when employee performance information was presented in aggregate form, where comparisons among employees would be easier, no sex bias was expected. It was also hypothesized that in the sequential condition, participants would provide casuistry-based reasoning for their decisions such that explanations for men's better performance would be justified by their performance on the sub-dimension on which the male candidate was rated highly. No effect was found for target gender on any of the outcomes. There was a significant difference for participant gender in the amount of salary increases and merit bonuses assigned. Male participants assigned significantly higher raises and bonuses than female participants to employees. There was also a strong main effect for task-related skills across all outcomes. Employees who were higher in the task dimension were rated higher, awarded higher pay, and given larger bonuses. There were no gender differences in the task ratings. Qualitative data analyses support these conclusions. Although participants provided lengthy reasons for their decisions, none showed or explained a gender difference. Limitations and recommendations for future studies are discussed.

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