What is it about?

This meta-analysis of over 600,000 individuals examines sex differences in job attribute preferences. Findings indicated that most sex differences are small and consistent with gender-role expectations and stereotypes. The largest differences indicate that women value positive relationships in the workplace more than men do. Also, many job attributes became relatively more important to women over time, indicating that women's aspirations rose between the 1970s and 1990s.

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Why is it important?

The largest gender differences in this study indicated the importance of workplace relationships to women. Because leadership and teamwork is increasingly important in today's work organizations, women's attention to relationships is likely to add value in the contemporary workplace. Also, some theorists believe women earn less money than men because of women's preferences for other job attributes, such as fewer work hours or a shorter commute. This meta-analysis shows that small gender-typed differences exist and that these differences are importantly moderated by the historical time period. As women perceive that more opportunities are available to them, their ratings of the importance of job characteristics rise.


I began this study with the intention of showing that women and men are increasingly similar in our workplace preferences. To my great surprise, the data did not support that prediction. Instead, a number of gender differences became larger over time as the opening of opportunities to women in the 1980s and 1990s increased their workplace aspirations: in the later time periods, women wanted MORE from their paid work. Also, I was surprised by the size of the gender differences in the importance of relationships in the workplace. That difference forced me to abandon my views that women and men are primarily the same and start to value the differences that women bring to the workplace. What is wrong with valuing relationships? In fact, the best leaders are GREAT at building relationships with subordinates, peers, and higher-ups.

Alison Konrad
Western University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Sex differences and similarities in job attribute preferences: A meta-analysis., Psychological Bulletin, January 2000, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.126.4.593.
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