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Female salaries and careers in British banking, 1915–41

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  • Seltzer, Andrew J.

Abstract

Women were first employed in large numbers by the British banking industry during the First World War, and were an essential part of the industry's labour force thereafter. During the interwar period, women were often confined to routine back office positions, and could not advance past the level of clerk. Evidence from Williams Deacon's Bank shows that the salaries of younger women were very similar to their male counterparts; however, an ever-widening gender pay gap emerged after about 5years seniority. The main reasons for this pay gap were higher exit rates for women, largely due to marriage bars, and lower returns to seniority. Promotion restrictions, though ubiquitous, account for a relatively small proportion of the gender pay gap. Despite the pay gap, the marriage bar, and the lack of promotion opportunities, a sizable proportion of female clerks were very loyal to the Bank and remained for 10 or more years. This was due to the absence of better opportunities elsewhere in the labour market.

Suggested Citation

  • Seltzer, Andrew J., 2011. "Female salaries and careers in British banking, 1915–41," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 461-477.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:4:p:461-477 DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2011.03.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-229, April.
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    3. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    4. Seltzer, Andrew J. & Simons, Kenneth L., 2001. "Salaries and Career Opportunities in the Banking Industry: Evidence from the Personnel Records of the Union Bank of Australia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 195-224, April.
    5. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    6. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
    7. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joyce Burnette, 2012. "Testing for Wage Discrimination in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 12-23, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Seltzer, Andrew, 2012. "The Impact of Female Employment on Male Wages and Careers: Evidence from the English Banking Industry, 1890-1941," IZA Discussion Papers 6663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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