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Gender differences in the association of a high quality job and self-esteem over time: A multiwave study

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2015
Author Keller Anita C., Meier Laurenz L., Gross Sven, Semmer Norbert K.,
Project Individual Trajectories of Working Life in Switzerland
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Volume (Issue) 24(1)
Page(s) 113 - 125
Title of proceedings European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
DOI 10.1080/1359432X.2013.865118


High self-esteem often predicts job-related outcomes, such as high job satisfaction or high status. Theoretically, high quality jobs (HQJs) should be important for self-esteem, as they enable people to use a variety of skills and attribute accomplishments to themselves, but research findings are mixed. We expected reciprocal relationships between self-esteem and HQJ. However, as work often is more important for the status of men, we expected HQJ to have a stronger influence on self-esteem for men as compared to women. Conversely, task-related achievements violate gender stereotypes for women, who may need high self-esteem to obtain HQJs. In a 4-year cross-lagged panel analysis with 325 young workers, self-esteem predicted HQJ; the lagged effect from HQJ on self-esteem was marginally significant. In line with the hypotheses, the multigroup model showed a significant path only from self-esteem to HQJ for women, and from HQJ to self-esteem for men. The reverse effect was not found for women, and only marginally significant for men. Overall, although there were some indications for reciprocal effects, our findings suggest that women need high self-esteem to obtain HQJs to a greater degree than men, and that men base their self-esteem on HQJs to a greater extent than women.