Occupational Segregation, Trade Unions and the Gender Pay Gap

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ina BERNINGER, University of Cologne, Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, Germany
Tim SCHRÖDER, University of Bremen, SOCIUM, Germany
One reason for the gendered division of paid and unpaid work is unequal pay. In Germany, the gender pay gap is particularly high (~22%). Social mechanisms on the occupational level and collective bargaining are able to explain the inequality to some extent. On the one hand, wages in female occupations are often lower. Some researchers argue, that these jobs offer a better opportunity to reconcile work and family life, which might justify the smaller wages. On the other hand, union density reduces wage inequality and also the gender pay gap. Thus, labour union policy can also be seen as policy on gender equality.

It is yet unknown how the two mechanisms – occupational segregation and labour unions – are related. Which role do labour unions play at the trade-off between wages and reconciliation in female and male occupations? Heinze and Wolf (2010) show that the coverage of collective wage agreements in industries with a high share of female union members is associated with a higher gender pay gap. They conclude that women in unions are rather involved in negotiating reconciliation plans than wage increases.

The contribution’s aim is to shed more light on the connection between occupational segregation, union density and the gender pay gap. In doing so, the socio-structural category “occupation” is specified through reconciliation characteristics and, related to this, the role of union density within jobs.

Using the German Socio-economic Panel (2000-2013) combined with data of the “BIBB/BAuA-Labour-Force-Study“ (2006) we describe several reconciliation characteristics as well as union density in female, male and mixed occupations. It is shown, if those jobs with higher share of female union members are indeed associated with a better reconciling of work and family life. Further we test, which combinations of occupational characteristics and union density enhance or reduce the gender pay gap.