A central paradox in studies of gender and job satisfaction is why women's job satisfaction is not lower than men's, given that women's jobs are often inferior. The explanation most commonly used is that women have lower expectations than men because they compare themselves to women while men compare themselves to men. However, general studies maybe masking a gender difference in higher occupational levels.
The current study explores this possibility by analyzing the 326 lawyers in the 1990 National Survey of Lawyers' Career Satisfaction. Of the women, 9% were minorities, and of the men, 3%. It is found that women have significantly lower job satisfaction. Women's lower job satisfaction is due primarily to their lack of influence and promotional opportunity. The results support the assertion that professional women have the same expectations as professional men, not lower, but because of inequality in opportunity, the women have lower job satisfaction.