Publication Date

November 1996


The "paradox of the contented female worker" describes the phenomenon of women reporting higher work and life satisfaction levels than men, despite being objectively worse off than their male counterparts. Using models of pay satisfaction and theories of equity, distributive justice, and relative deprivation, we examined the existence of this paradox in four companies with gainsharing plans. Results confirm that the paradox prevails for all under traditional pay systems, but under gainsharing, there is no paradox for lower-paid employees and a strong paradox among higher-paid employees.


Suggested Citation
Welbourne, T. M. & Graham, M. E. (1996). Who's contented now? Gainsharing and the paradoxical female worker (CAHRS Working Paper #96-15). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.