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Barrett et al (1) reported that male foodservice directors employed in health care facilities earned higher salaries than female foodservice directors. Their research found that when all variables such as length of employment, size of facility, professional certification, and education were controlled, a significantly greater percentage of male foodservice directors than female foodservice directors had high salaries.
Career choice, sex-role stereotyping, and job/career satisfaction have been identified as reasons for salary inequities in other occupations (2-12). Women enter female-dominated career paths such as dietetics because these careers can provide a greater sense of accomplishment and job security than male-dominated professions (2). However, women in female-dominated careers had lower pay expectations (2,3). Studies (4-10) have indicated that stereotypically male characteristics (eg, aggressiveness, independence, objectivity) were perceived as more socially desirable than feminine characteristics (eg, tactfulness, gentleness). This perception may have led to women's negative evaluation of their self-worth and, in turn, lower pay expectations. In previous studies, women expressed greater satisfaction with the intrinsic rewards such as the work itself, whereas men received more satisfaction from extrinsic rewards such as pay (11,12). As a result, women often accepted lower salaries.
In 1993, The American Dietetic Association reported that 97.7% (13) of its members were women. Hill (14), in her commentary in the January 1991 issue of the Journal of The American Dietetic Association, stated that female dietitians have often been perceived as weak because dietetics is viewed as a female-dominated profession. She also stated that the leadership style of dietitians was considered ineffective because it differed from the traditional male style.
Because of the results of studies with dietitians and findings of research in other professions, we concluded that more research with management dietitians should be conducted. The purpose of our study was to examine the sex-role orientation characteristics and career importance factors of foodservice directors employed in health care facilities to determine whether these variables explained the salary inequities between men and women.
The stratified random sample comprised 1,500 foodservice directors employed in health care facilities accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. The directors were mailed a letter and a return …