A qualitative study of gender pay gap phenomenon : the case of Shenzhen maritime industry

Shengwei CAO (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


The gender pay gap is one of the most serious social inequalities nowadays, and the excessive gap of pay distribution has increasingly become an important factor affecting economic development and social stability. Through literature review and theoretical analysis, this study will focus on the phenomenon of gender pay gap, find out the possible reasons of pay gap, apply relevant theories to specific industries for verification. At present, most of the studies on the gender pay gap in China focus on the overall gender pay gap. Compared with foreign research systems, it is difficult to determine the gender pay gap in the same job, especially the gender pay gap in a specific industry or the pay distribution difference in equal work. In reality, due to the low transparency of the wage distribution process of employers, it is difficult to explain the gender pay difference based on the theory of human resource structure. it reveals that various forms of discrimination still exist against women in the labour market and workplaces. In particular, the persisting, and arguably widening, gender pay gap reflects not only the sticky floor, but also the glass ceiling effects. Therefore, this study will also use the existing perspective of discrimination theory and employer bias theory and others relevant explanations, which are rarely mentioned in domestic academic circles, to explore the potential causes of the gender pay gap phenomenon in China. The selection of the maritime industry in this study is of particular significance because traditionally, the nature of this industry used to be the male-dominated field of seafarers' business, but recently there has been a new trend that more and more women are joining the industry, specially attending at its shore-based workplace, which is less to emphasis on traditional male physical characteristics. This study takes four types of relevant shipping companies (excluding seafarers on board) in Shenzhen as the research object, including two shipping companies, two port companies, two shipping agency companies and two freight companies as cases, conducts semi-open-ended interviews to collects and analyzes data, aims to find the reasons behind the incomplete data that might explain the gap in specific workplace. From the perspective of labor market structure, this paper uses human capital theory, statistical discrimination theory and social role theory to explain the causes of gender pay gap and summarizes some suggestions to improve it. The findings of this study not only help to further understand the causes of the gender pay gap in China's maritime industry. Practical recommendation included seeking feasible solutions in to improve pay transparency and reduce the incidence of unequal pay for the same job content.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2024
EventPostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning: Reimaging Postgraduate Studies in the New Digital Age - Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Duration: 6 Apr 20246 Apr 2024


ConferencePostgraduate Conference on Interdisciplinary Learning
Country/TerritoryHong Kong


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