Gendering, courtship and pay equality: developing attraction theory to understand work-life balance and entrepreneurial activity

RIDLEY-DUFF, R. (2008). Gendering, courtship and pay equality: developing attraction theory to understand work-life balance and entrepreneurial activity. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference, Belfast, November 5-7 2008.


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Objectives: This paper examines one of the most intractable problems of the last 40 years: the difficulty in closing the pay inequality gap. Current wisdom is that the pay gap exists because of men's power to control the workplace, and men's dominant position in society generally. This paper examines an emergent literature on matriarchal power structures and proposes Attraction Theory as a holistic framework.

Prior Work: This paper acknowledges a range of feminist literature that examines the underlying social relations and power structures that impact on pay differentials. This is critiqued on the basis of findings from courtship research as well as studies emerging from liberal / progressive writers in the men's movement.

Approach: This paper is conceptual, using an inter-disciplinary understanding of social processes to critically appraise both the dominant discourse on equal pay and its emergent alternative. Attraction Theory is presented as a framework for exploring a complex discourse that unequal pay exists both because of men's power to control the workplace and women's power to control courtship and family life.

Implications: Tackling pay inequality and work-life balance issues by focussing on power sharing in the workplace represents only a partial policy solution. Further progress depends on power-sharing in parental rights through academic recognition and political action to tackle negative stereotypes that impact on men during romantic courtship, conception, birth and divorce.

Value: The value of the paper lies in the originality of the analysis and the range of insights that Attraction Theory provides into societal dynamics that impact on equal pay. The identification of paradoxes in the dominant discourse opens up new avenues for research and policy development on work-life balance. Whether these will close the pay gap is unclear, but it would advance equality and diversity goals by creating confidence that consensual choices rather the institutional inequalities perpetuate any remaining inequalities reported in statistics.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: equal pay, entrepreneurship, attraction theory, sexuality, masculinity, femininity
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > People, Work and Organisation
Departments: Sheffield Business School > Department of Management
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2008
Last Modified: 12 May 2018 23:54

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