"Equity is a subjective evaluation, not an objective one. Based on the comparison that individuals use, each individual is likely to develop different perceptions of equity." (Scholl, 2000) When individuals look at the equity model on the job scale, they compare their contributions and rewards to that of those around them (associates, coworkers, management, etc.). If the equation is balanced, the "equity"--as society puts it--is accomplished. If it is unbalanced, the inequity may cause individual reactions or responses.
Generally the individual who feels as if their contribution is greater will make demands such as financial rewards, greater leadership responsibilities, promotions, or even basic recognition. (This "equity theory" follows true in relationships also. For example, if one partner feels as if he/she is putting more into the relationship than the other, he/she may opt to leave.)
The military is a hard place to effectively use the equity theory due to the fact that the promotion system is based on a point and time in service scale rather than the individual accomplishment of leadership roles or demonstrating responsibility and character.
When I was an E-4/Specialist (junior enlisted soldier) in the Army, I had a squad leader who was an E-5/ Sergeant (non-commissioned officer). Although we were the same age, she enlisted in the military two years before me and therefore had more time in service. We were both single parents, separated, working Finance and both "fast trackers" on the promotion scale. Aside from the difference in rank and the fact that she could run faster than me, I considered her my equal.
On a personal note, I worked long hours (I love my job!), came in early and always volunteered for unit projects. The company commander deemed me as the soldier in charge of our unit fund raising because of all the...