Why Men (Still) Usually Make More Money Than Women

The NYT featured and article about women going back to school during the recession . It had many of the usual PC features about victim status but also hit upon some truths that help explain the continued wage gap. Let’s take some sentences. Draw your own conclusions.

• Workers are dropping out of the labor force in droves, and they are mostly women.
• An unemployed female worker is 35 percent more likely to drop out of the labor force.
• Women are pickier about their job choices than men.
• Women are less willing to work when wages fall.
• Women are also more reluctant to work night or weekend shifts.
• The jobs out there just aren't very good, and men seem more willing to take them for whatever reason.
• The women are looking at those same jobs and saying, 'I'll be more productive elsewhere'.
• There is still this heavy cultural message that men should be out there earning money and supporting themselves.
• We've made much more progress overcoming the 'feminine mystique' than this masculine mystique.

The bottom line is that in the aggregate men and women make significantly different choices which result in significantly different outcomes. This general situation says nothing about individual performance. Applying group performance to individuals would be sexist. We should be concerned with individual discrimination against anyone because of his or her gender, but gaps between groups should concern us not at all, especially when they can be easily explained by differences in choices and behaviors.

BTW - the author of the article thinks that education and training that women are now getting in greater numbers than men will help them find better jobs when we come out of the Obama doldrums. If they made good choices about improving their human capital, this will probably be true. If a gap develops then, we should also be unconcerned.

Posted by Christine & John at December 29, 2011 9:47 AM
Comment #333677
The bottom line is that in the aggregate men and women make significantly different choices which result in significantly different outcomes.

Have you considered the possibility that these differences in decision-making are derived from societal pressures?

Posted by: Warped Reality at December 29, 2011 1:30 PM
Comment #333678

Or it could be that women really don’t want to work and would rather stay home, raise children, and cook. Perhaps they half-heartedly want to work, therefore don’t care about the pay. Women were forced into the work force during WWII and stayed there because 2 paychecks meant a better lifestyle; but after so many are out of work during this Obama economy, they have learned to live on less and learned to appriciate being home.

Posted by: Steve at December 29, 2011 2:06 PM
Comment #333679


I have considered that very strongly. In fact I believe that men stick it our more BECAUSE of strong social pressure on them that makes it nearly impossible for good men to “downshift.”

I saw this in my MBA class. It was a pretty sweet deal for our female classmates. Some firms interviewed all the women before any men. One of my female friends got an offer for the plumb job at General Mills on the day of my FIRST interview for it.

Anyway, three of my good female friends got great jobs at American Express, General Mills & Beatrice Foods (all big deals back in 1984. Within two years, all three had decided to “downshift”, i.e. take less pressure filled jobs.

There is a hard time that comes in stressful professional jobs at about 2-3 years and then 6-7 years. At these points in your career, you start to feel overwhelmed and trapped, respectively. Women can choose to “explore other options”. Men, in our usual formulation, have to stick it out. I know that happened to me. Sticking it out is often good. Time on task, time in job is an important key to success. Having no place else to go with honor helps you stay.

Ironically, the best way to create more equal men-women outcomes would be to relax pressure on men. My observation among younger people is that this may be happening.


I don’t know. I know that some women like that choice. We (Chrissy & I) thought it was a great luxury for her to stay at home when we had small kids. She wanted to do it. I would have supported either way. Now that the kids are adults, she has resumed her career and is doing very well. Her lifetime earnings will probably never equal mine, but that doesn’t really matter since she gets to spend my earnings as well as her own.

It is very un-PC to suggest that women and men might make different choices related to child rearing. Feminists have implicitly assumed that all differences are related to society norms. Modern genetics research is compromising the idea that people are blank slates.

Individuals will make different choices. That is what matters. Group gaps are not relevant except as a sociological construct or a frame for study.

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 2:31 PM
Comment #333681

The reason why women don’t make as much as men is actually very simple: it’s because there are still too many men who do not view women as their equals.
Sad, but true.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 29, 2011 3:18 PM
Comment #333682


Simply stated. Sometimes simplicity produces the correct answers; other times not.

Would it be likely that any group that in aggregate makes different choices. Have you noticed that women in general make the same choices as men under similar circumstances?

In your opinion, there are no fields of effort of life experiences where women might have insights different than those of men?

Of course, money is not the only measure of success. I choose to make less money than I could. The story many women tell is that women are more likely than men to to emphasize other life values over simply making more money. This is not true, in your opinion?

Posted by: C&J at December 29, 2011 4:24 PM
Comment #333690

“Feminists have implicitly assumed that all differences are related to society norms.”

Then we have this example of a feminist statement:

“The reason why women don’t make as much as men is actually very simple: it’s because there are still too many men who do not view women as their equals.

Sad, but true.”

Posted by: Adrienne at December 29, 2011 3:18 PM

Why did I believe it would all boil down to be man’s fault?

I wonder if there is such a thing as a woman personel manager who hires and fires? If so, Adrienne’s statement wouldn’t make much sense.

Posted by: Steve at December 29, 2011 7:33 PM
Comment #333872

The job I had before retiring had more women in management then men and more women workers making just as much and sometimes more then their male counterparts. We see trends shifting as more women do the same jobs as men but will it continue.

Posted by: KAP at December 30, 2011 10:25 AM
Comment #333885


The job I had before retiring had more women in management then men and more women workers making just as much and sometimes more then their male counterparts. We see trends shifting as more women do the same jobs as men but will it continue.

I agree that things have been changing over time, and that this is sure to continue. It’s just been changing a lot slower than many women would like.


Why did I believe it would all boil down to be man’s fault?

Does this truth hurt? Personally, I’d be very glad to know that this fact does disturb men. Because it really should trouble everyone that after nearly a half century since it became illegal to pay women less on the basis of their sex, American women still only earn an average of 77 cents compared to every dollar that men earn.

Posted by: Adrienne at December 30, 2011 2:36 PM
Comment #333887


You failed to answer the questions about women’s choices. Don’t believe in choice?

Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 2:50 PM
Comment #333891


Posted by: KAP at December 30, 2011 3:30 PM
Comment #333892

The so-called wage gap is largely an artifact of how we measure these things.


Posted by: C&J at December 30, 2011 3:45 PM
Comment #333910

Adrienne, “does this truth hurt”? No; any man that has been married for any amount of time realizes “it is always the man’s fault”. Why should holding a conversation with an unknown woman (you) be any different. It is bred into women to blame men for all the ills of the world. Liberal girly-men do the same thing. They blame everyone else for their own faults and shortcomings.

Posted by: Steve at December 30, 2011 8:59 PM
Comment #335545

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