n South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences - Gender-based discrimination in South Africa : a quantitative analysis of fairness of remuneration

Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-8812
  • E-ISSN: 2222-3436



Equity is important to most individuals and its perceived absence may impact negatively on individual and organisational performance. The concept of equity presupposes fair treatment, while discrimination implies unfair treatment. The perceptions of discrimination, or being treated unfairly, may result from psycho-social processes, or from data that justifies discrimination and is quantifiable. To assess whether differences in post grading and remuneration for males and females are based on gender, rather than on quantifiable variables that could justify these differences. Biographical information was gathered from 1740 employees representing 29 organisations. The data collected included self-reported post grading (dependent variable) and 14 independent variables, which may predict the employees' post gradings. The independent variables related primarily to education, tenure and family responsibility. Males reported higher post gradings and higher salaries than those of females, but the difference was not statistically significant and the practical significance of this difference was slight. Qualification types, job specific training, and membership of professional bodies did not affect post grading along gender lines. The ways in which work experience was measured had no influence on post grading or salary for either males or females. Furthermore, family responsibility, union membership and the type of work the employees performed did not influence the employees' post grading. The only difference found concerned the unfair treatment of males, particularly those who were well-qualified. Objective evidence of unfair gender-based discrimination affecting post grading and salary is scarce, and the few differences that do occur have little statistical and practical significance. Perceptions of being discriminated against may therefore more often be seen as the result of psycho-social processes and are not necessarily the result of justifiable differences in education, tenure and family responsibility.

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