Women's job satisfaction has fallen since 1991, bringing it in line with male job satisfaction, according to research from Lancaster University Management School.
Paradox Lost: Disappearing Female Job Satisfaction found that while the job satisfaction of men has remained stable since 1991, for women it has fallen by approximately 7%, ending a phenomenon known as the paradox of the “contented female worker”.
A major 1997 study by Andrew Clark saw female job satisfaction rank highly compared with men's. Clark put this down to women's improved position in the labour force relative to their expectations. However, he predicted this would be temporary as there was already no satisfaction gap for the youngest and most educated workers in his sample.
The Lancaster University study, which compared data from Clark's work with figures spanning the last two decades, has confirmed this prediction. The researchers suggested that women seem to have expectations about working life that increasingly reflect actual experience and are closer to those of men, resulting in the lower and more equal job satisfaction level.
Colin Green, professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School and co-author of the Paradox Lost report, explained: “This fits with the view that female workers in the 90s had lower expectations than their male counterparts and were simply more satisfied with a given set of working characteristics because of these lower expectations,” he said.
“The literature on female satisfaction has essentially taken as a given the so-called ‘paradox of the contented female worker’. However, our calculations reveal that this has now completely vanished,” Green added.