Cultural dimensions and gender discrimination law in the U.S. workplace: Hofstede's theories of individualism and masculinity

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It has been more than forty-five years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and forty-four years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, there has been a persistent disparity in employment outcomes for women and men. Women comprise more than half of the population and 47 percent of the workforce, but hold only 16 percent of the corporate offices in Fortune 500 companies and 5 percent of the senior management positions in mid- to large-sized firms. The median pay for women employed full time is 80 percent of that of men. There have been many explanations for these disparities from diverse fields such as sociology, economics and psychology, as well as legal studies. The work of cultural theorists in international management has not been considered as an explanation for the disappointing lack of progress towards gender equity in the workplace. In this first Friday Forum of 2009, Profs. Virginia Arthur (Management), Jean Didier (Management), and Wendy Klepetar (Manager) describe the work done by a leading scholar of international organizational behavior, Geert Hofstede, and use his theoretical framework of cultural dimensions to discuss both the form gender discrimination law has taken in the United States, and its impact (or lack thereof) on employment outcomes for women.


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