The real explanation for the gender pay gap

Women have consistently been earning less than men, even in highly developed countries,

“Even I am earning less than my male predecessors.”

and even in 2011. This is still true in most industries, even for women with the same qualifications as men. (For the related topic of female under-representation on corporate boards, see here.) It seems especially odd nowadays, because in many countries more women complete secondary education and do so with better results than men. For many university courses, it is not uncommon to have more female graduates and they are often the ones with better grades.

So why do women on average still earn less than men?

1. lack of comparability

Even after making adjustments for socio-economic background, chosen degrees and grades, women in the same professions earn less than their male colleagues. Many will take this as sufficient evidence for an anti-female gender bias in the distribution of income.

I however suggest that even after allowing for all of these socio-economic adjustments, we still haven’t achieved a level of comparability. Because we are missing something else. Something that might be equally important as qualifications: Expectations, specifically expectations about life.

2. different expectations in life

Based (so far only) on my own personal, professional and academic experience, it seems to me that men are more focused on a career than on most other aspects of their lives. Women however, are also interested in finding a relationship, starting a family and other aspects of their social life. Please note that I am not saying that women are less interested in pursuing a career than men, I just think that they might be less mono-focused.

3. different incentives in the mating process

This is already an obviously distorting effect in itself, but it is exacerbated by the different incentives this sets for men and women in light of the non-career choices that both make, especially the mating habits:

a) Men are looking for an attractive, caring and faithful woman. Some men appreciate an educated and independent woman, but (too) many men still don’t. Beyond the level of having a job and an income, the financial status of a woman is rather irrelevant to men.

b) Women who are looking to find a man are therefore encouraged to take care of their looks and to present themselves as lovely, sweet, etc. Beyond an average qualification and income, there is not much to be gained for a woman in the mating process by spending more hours at the office. She had rather devote this time to finding a sexy dress. (And it open to debate if this means that the man or the woman is the more shallow one of both.)

c) While women also don’t mind to find an attractive, caring and faithful man, they have an above average interest in security. This includes financial security. For most women, the financial status of their potential partner is an important factor.

d) For men, this clearly sets the incentive to work as hard and as much as they can in order to earn more and thus maintain or increase their chances with the ladies.

4. conclusion

Because women are looking for well-off men, it is women who are subliminally forcing men to work and earn more. The gender pay gap is the women’s fault.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The real explanation for the gender pay gap

  1. John Erickson says:

    I’d throw one more sub-item on Number 3. Men are taught by society to hunt for the “hot”, attractive, youthful woman. Women, as you say, are more interested in security. So while a less than outstanding man, albeit with excellent finances, is acceptable in the societal norm, the woman has to be successful AND young AND attractive. (I do NOT, repeat NOT, endorse this concept about women.) Also, the “window of opportunity” for men to attract women is much longer – a man of 45 can be considered a catch, but a woman of 40 is “over the hill”, or worse – a “cougar”. (More nonsense I whole-heartedly refute.) So men have, say, 20 years for a career, dating, and family formation. Women have to do all that in 10, maybe 15 years at best. If we can convince Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the international equivalents to stop their fixation on youth, and present society (or at least, Western society) with the more realistic message that a date on a calendar does NOT determine a woman’s desirability.

  2. smilingcynic says:

    Good stuff man. Cracking Blog

  3. wmwl says:

    This is all just opinion, and not original. Have you tried doing actual research? If you do you will find that you are wrong.

  4. Lala says:

    I agree with the last comment and im sad that you decided to publish this today. I give you the example of women which just dont know or dare to negotiate salaries – ask just in your friends circle – or better your work circle, i bet you’ll be surprised. And employers know that. Now you can argue its just a matter of confidence of an individual or the wrong low pay insustries the women choose to work in, but that would draw a very simple picture. I also agree with the first comment.

  5. Ngwenya says:

    Bollocks! The gap exists across the board, throughout the world. The milieu you are describing is very middle-class, developed world. This does not apply where working is a matter of life an death.

  6. Um, no, actually.

    Come to New York, where a salary of $100,000 barely gets you a studio apartment and men are indeed intensely interested in/obsessed by how much a woman earns and the wealth of her family because where’s the $1-2m for the apartment with room for kids going to come from? My ex-husband traded up to a woman earning $150,000 a year, more than twice what I was earning.

    It’s never as simple as you suggest…

    • robin0479 says:

      Hi Broadsideblog,

      I always see everything in general way so i can be absolutely objective about the real thing happen. I don’t count 1 different thing in a million or even closed to 3 different thing in 10. The majority is always been my reference for the actual situation.

      What confused me, why can’t some ppl accept to be in the second place by denying the reality and taking a few cases (3 in 10, 2 in 10 whatever) as their denial sources? Surely this denial trigged unneccessary conflicts with the other gender.

      This is the same thing happen in Asia when Successful Asian women are found anywhere (of course it’s still 1 in 10). They have exactly the same story with you when asked about these gender pay gap.

      I wanna share a little story about my life. This is the fact and happened everywhere. I have a lower education than my girlfriend’s. She went to the university for her bachelor degree while i’m just a highschool degree.

      We met in the same field of work but different companies when i firstly earned only half of her salary. it was not long after i moved out to find the better company for my carreer (about 1 year) and i always got twice and even more than she got from the first time she met me.

      Do you know what i’m trying to say? someone can go up and up while the other one stays the same.

      Do you know in the list of richest people in China, 99 percents are men while the woman who ranked in the richest ppl was inherited a lot of shares by her father. It’s the same thing happened in the world like Liliane Bettencourt, She is the richest person in France and one of the wealthiest people in the world. She lives a luxurious lifestyle, traveling throughout the world. Forbes magazine estimates her wealth in 2005 at $17.2 bn.
      Bettencourt was THE ONLY CHILD of Mr. Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal, the world’s leading company in cosmetics and beauty.

      The other one is Alice L. Walton (born October 7, 1949) is the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton. She and her mother each have an estimated net worth of about $18 billion and are the richest women in the world.

      This is only to share with you. Please don’t take this too personal.
      I think this is not a neccessary topic to debate about. It’s just something we have to know about the thing going on around us.

      You have a nice day.

  7. Pingback: Why hot girls are dumb | Publish or Perish – Andreas Moser's Blog

  8. Pingback: The real explanation for the gender pay gap « robin0479

  9. Irena says:

    I agree that men and women have different expectations in life, which is partially the reason for the pay gap. It is also the reason for a lot of other things “gone wrong” (e.g. marriages). We expect different things from ourselves and from others and we act accordingly. Therefore women and men end up with different results.

    Simply put: Men and women are inherently different and there is not much we can do about it. It’s in our DNA :D

  10. Robin Wu says:

    No Andreas, i won’t be too far from women :p, Absolutely not (women are angels,how can you live without angels?). I wanna stay closed to an obedient woman who understands her position as a woman. I don’t know in a far far away western land :), but in our Asian paradise here ^_^, 90 percents women are exactly as we want. The other 10 percents stay single for the rest of their lives :p. Happy single lives. :)

  11. Pingback: How people found my blog | The Happy Hermit – Andreas Moser's Blog

  12. Bradley says:

    Testosterone makes us men more active and motivated than women in general. We’re also more attracted to feminine women, and the women who are highly focused on careers tend to sacrifice their femininity somewhere along the line.

  13. Cathy Berthelots says:

    D’ailleurs, a propos de membre de l’Académie, ll se dit que le brillant libraire M. Collard, qui tient la librairie Griffe Noire, va postuler pour être à l’Academie Française .. Je suis convaincu que ça donnerait un second élan à la noble institution, foi de Saint Maurien. Vous ne trouvez pas

  14. londonitgirl says:

    I agree, If I negotiate a poor rate for a piece of work that’s nobody’s fault but my own.

Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s