AuthorKim, Sungchan
  1. Introduction

    It has long been recognized that justice is an important concern of organizations. Previous research on organizational management has demonstrated that employee perception of organizational justice is positively related to their work attitudes and outcomes such as job satisfaction, job performance, and organizational commitment (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001; Greenberg, 1990). In addition, organization justice is considered as the grounds on which the trust between employees and their supervisors or organizations is built (Colquitt et al., 2006; Lind and Van den Bos, 2002). On the other hand, if an organization is not perceived to be fair, employees may retaliate against the organization (Foley, Hang-Yue and Wong, 2005; Skarlicki and Folger, 1997) or create conflict in the workplace (Gutek, Cohen and Tsui, 1996). Thus, organizational justice has become a significant context for understanding employee attitudes or behaviors in the workplace (Ambrose, Hess and Ganesan, 2007; Cropanzano and Rupp, 2003).

    Even though the importance of organizational justice remains fundamental for organizations, female employees have suffered from unfair treatment when attempting to gain higher positions of authority in organizations (Bowling et al., 2006; Newman, 1996; Riccucci, 2009) and by experiencing differences in salary and wages compared with males (Alkadry and Tower, 2006; Blau and Kahn, 2000). Such unfair treatment of female employees is metaphorically referred to as the glass ceiling (Morrison and Von Glinow, 1990) or glass wall (Cornwell and Kellough, 1994; Kelly and Newman, 2001). Glass ceilings or glass walls have not disappeared completely, despite the fact that female employment in public organizations has increased so much that approximately 45% of the federal workforce was made up of female employees in 2013 (U.S. Office of Personnel Management (1), 2013). As one of the ways to improve organizational culture related to equal treatment or fairness, organizations in the public sector have implemented various managerial practices or initiatives such as diversity management. Organizations adopt diversity management in order to show their compliance with social norms and then achieve legitimacy for the adoption. However, the implementation would not be successful if diversity management was not in accord with other organizational actions, or if it is not fair for all employees regardless of race or gender (Yang and Konrad, 2011).

    The purpose of this article is to examine how female employees in federal agencies perceive diversity management, and whether they believe that diversity management can lead to organizational justice, by drawing on a large sample of federal employees. As organizational justice has multifaceted characteristics in organizations (Cohen-Carash and Spector, 2001; Greenberg, 1990), we define organizational justice and explore how female employees perceive it, based on their individual characteristics as well as their agency categories. For this analysis, in the following section we review the literature on gender discrimination, organizational justice and diversity management. In the next section, our hypotheses are introduced based on demographic characteristics, focusing more closely on supervisory status and agency categories of female employees in public organizations. Next, the variables and measures used in our analysis will be identified, and we will introduce the ordinary least square (OLS) methodology for the key questions. Finally, we will analyze the results and draw some conclusions and discuss policy implications based on those findings.

  2. Literature review

    2.1. Gender discrimination in organizations

    Organizations have applied norms and beliefs that are more accommodating to men than to women (Van Vianen and Fischer, 2002), thus women still perceive implicit or explicit discrimination in public organizations, even though different managerial practices or related legal initiatives have been implemented in organizations. When individuals perceive gender discrimination, employees believe their gender is disadvantaged at work compared to the opposite sex (Gutek, Cohen and Tsui, 1996). Female employees have experienced such occupational segregation as staying in lower-level or unimportant positions with lower wages in relation to males (Alkadry and Tower, 2006; French, 2005). Moreover, women have faced various forms of discrimination, including horizontal (glass wall) and vertical (glass ceiling) dimensions in organizations. Generally, the glass wall refers to an occupational segregation that restricts female employees from accessing certain types of agencies (Kerr, Miller and Reid, 2002). Thus, female employees can be easily excluded from important missions and roles in the organization (Guy, 1994; Kellough, 1990; Naff, 1994). In addition to the glass wall, the glass ceiling is another impediment, preventing female employees from being promoted above a certain level or position (Bowling et al., 2006; Morrison and Von Glinow, 1990). The glass ceiling acts as an obvious barrier to prevent women and ethnic minorities from moving up in the higher management hierarchy (Morrison and Von Glinow, 1990).

    Multiple factors can be attributed to gender discrimination (Kelly, 1991; Naff, 1994; Sneed, 2007). In general, they are explained by way of three approaches: the human capital model, the socio-psychological model, and the systemic model (Naff, 1994). The human capital approach examines discrimination based on individual differences such as education, work experience, and other job-related capacities, as well as biological differences according to an individual's gender or reproductive roles (Becker, 1985; Hakim, 1996; Sneed, 2007). The second approach is the socio-psychological model, which explains discrimination according to psychological factors such as gender roles, stereotypes based upon gender differences, or a masculine culture within an organization (Choi and Park, 2014; Connell, 2006; Guy, 1993). According to this theory, discrimination stems from stereotyped roles that are based on fixed psychological perceptions of gender differences. The last approach, the systemic model, is defined as systematic barriers that discriminate against certain groups; this theory explains why female employees cannot be given equal opportunities to males based upon structural or organizational problems of gender discrimination. Among the three approaches, much of the discrimination can be explained through the socio-psychological model and the systemic model (Kelly, 1991; Naff, 2001; Newman, 1996), while no single theory of the three can provide a full understanding of sex-based discrimination (Kelly, 1991; Reskin and Hartmann, 1986). Multiple factors of discrimination against women have generated issues related to organizational justice in public organizations.

    2.2. Perceived organizational justice

    Organizational justice is generally regarded as one of the key factors for understanding employee attitudes or behaviors in the workplace (Ambrose, Hess and Ganesan, 2007; Cropanzano and Rupp, 2003). It is defined as 'the individual's and the group's perception of the fairness of treatment received from an organization and their behavioral reaction to such perceptions' (Aryee, Budhwar and Chen, 2002, p. 269). In terms of social exchange and equity theories, people are continually seeking a balance between what they invest in and what they expect to receive for their efforts (Adams, 1965; Noblet and Rodwell, 2009). If the perceived balance satisfies employees' expectations, then organizational justice leads to positive work-related attitudes of employees, resulting in organizational trust in management, stronger job performance, and greater job satisfaction (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001; Colquitt et al., 2001; Linnehan and Konrad, 1999). Thus, organizational justice is a key factor in managing employee job performance or job satisfaction in organizations (Cropanzano and Rupp, 2003; DiTomaso, Post and Parks-Yancy, 2007).

    Much of the literature generally describes the three dimensions of organizational justice, which are distributive, procedural, and interactional (Cohen-Charash and Spector, 2001). Distributive justice is introduced first, and focuses on the fairness of outcome distribution (Adams, 1963 and 1965; Homans, 1961). It is directly related to outcomes (e.g., pay, performance, evaluation, and promotion) at the individual level (Colquitt et al., 2006). Later, scholars began to concentrate on procedural justice, explaining how outcomes are decided (Lind and Tyler, 1988). Procedural justice is closely tied to the organizational level compared to distributive justice, in that procedural justice covers the whole process of how outcomes are produced and allocated; procedural justice is most correlated with the perception of fairness (Lind and Tyler, 1988). Finally, interactional justice focuses on fairness in interpersonal relationships within organizations and consists of two dimensions: interpersonal and informational justice (Cropanzano and Randall, 1993).

    Regarding the perception of justice, there is variation among the perceived organizational justice among employees (Greenberg, 1996) as female and male employees have different perceptions about organizational justice (Naff 1994; Soni, 2000); female employees regard their working environments and treatment less positively than males. Females think that the organizational climate is less favorable to them than to white males (Soni, 2000), and they perceive both distributive and procedural justice less than males, while they recognize interactional justice more than males. Moreover, African-American female employees place more value on interactional justice than on the other two organizational justice dimensions (Simpson and Kaminski, 2007). Lee, Pillutla, and Law (2000) also argued that women and men...

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