How can gender signal employee qualities in retailing?
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The occupational structure in retail employment is known to be gendered, such that women tend to occupy ‘softer’ social roles, while men tend to occupy ‘harder’ physical and technical roles. This article presents an integrative model that illustrates the balance of KSAOs (knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personality characteristics) and retail sectors between male and female retail employees, and explains how gender can signal employee qualities in the retail sector. The empirical analysis uses data from a survey of 702 respondents employed across 40 ANZSIC (Australian New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification) retail categories. Based on signalling theory, the findings suggest that an employee's gender can be an unintentional signal for unobservable qualities in retail employment, which has implications for customer service, human resource management, and gender discrimination.
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