Perceptions of Gender and Seniority Wage Inequality and Individual Behavioral Reactions in the Organizational Context

Project Description

Aims and Central Research Question

We analyze perceptions of wage inequality based on gender and seniority and the resulting individual behavioral reactions. Some criteria that result in wage inequalities (such as work experience) are generally agreed upon and codified. Other more diffuse criteria (such as seniority within a firm), however, can lead to gender wage inequality. We aim to understand whether employees perceive wage setting based on gender and seniority as just or justified, taking the organizational setting into account. We also investigate employees’ behavioral reactions based on individual perceptions of inequality.


Earlier research shows that men as well as women consider the gender pay gap to be just, or at least justifiable. This perception varies by context, and is stronger among people who experience gender differences in pay in their own occupations. What is missing, however, is a systematic analysis of how contextual factors influence employees’ perception of gender wage inequality. Moreover, a large body of empirical research finds that wages tend to increase with seniority (work experience being equal). In how far this is perceived and rationalized by workers in different organizational contexts is still little understood.


We conduct a vignette study among employees working in different organizational contexts. Employees are asked to rate the fairness of wages of fictitious colleagues with varying gender, work experience, seniority and job performance. We will draw a stratified sample of firms using the existing gender gap in gross wages, the share of women in management and the seniority premiums to draw a random sample of employees of these firms from administrative data.


Sociology, Economics

Starting Date

1 October 2019

Project Partners

Julia Lang (IAB - Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg)

Julia Lang received a degree in economics from the University of Regensburg in 2006. From 2007 to 2012 she worked as research assistant at TU Dortmund University and received her doctoral degree in 2013. Since January 2013 she has been a researcher at the IAB. Find more information about Julia Lang here.

Katrin Auspurg (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)

Katrin Auspurg holds a full professorship in sociology (specializing in quantitative empirical research) at the Department of Sociology at the LMU Munich, Germany, since 2015. She earned a Diploma in Sociology from the LMU Munich (2006), and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Konstanz (2010). Previously, she was a professor at the Goethe-University Frankfurt. Prof. Auspurg investigates how inequalities in the labor market and the family intersect and reinforce each other. In addition, her current projects advance innovative experimental or survey methods that allow the testing of mechanisms that cause social inequalities or subtle forms of discrimination. Find more information about Katrin Auspurg here.



Auspurg, Katrin & Hinz, Thomas. (2015). Factorial Survey Experiments. Sage Series: Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.

Auspurg, Katrin, Hinz, Thomas & Sauer, Carsten. (2017). Why Should Women Get Less? Evidence on the Gender Pay Gap from Multifactorial Survey Experiments. American Sociological Review 82(1), 179-210.

Hinz, Thomas & Gartner, Hermann. (2009). Geschlechtsspezifische Lohnunterschiede in Branchen, Berufen und Betrieben (1993-2006). Berliner Journal für Soziologie 19(4), 557-575.

Leuze, Kathrin & Strauß, Susanne. (2014). Female-Typical Subjects and Their Effect on Wage Inequalities among Higher Education Graduates in Germany. European Societies 14(2), 275-298.

Leuze, Kathrin & Strauß, Susanne. (2016). Why do occupations dominated by women pay less? How "female-typical" work tasks and working-time arrangements affect the gender wage gap among higher education graduates. Work, Employment and Society 30(5), 802-820.