Shocker: sexist system pays off for (male) sexists

// 22 September 2008

US researchers have discovered that men who think the woman’s place is in the kitchen and the man’s place is behind a desk at work make more money, reports the BBC. On the other hand, women who hold less sexist views typically earn more than their counterparts.

A US study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that they will consistently out-earn more “modern-thinking” men.

On average, this meant an extra $8,500 (£4,722) a year.

How was the study conducted:

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Florida, was conducted on a large scale, with 12,686 men and women interviewed in 1979, when they were aged between 14 and 22, and three times in the following two decades, the last time in 2005.

The researchers asked them whether they believed a woman’s place was in the home, or whether the employment of women was likely to lead to higher rates of juvenile delinquency.

Whether or not their views have evolved over time is not, it seems, considered. Given that 1979 was nearly three decades ago, it might have been a good idea to check in, but we’ll set that aside for the moment.

Dr Timothy Judge, one of the researchers, said: “More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles – our results prove that is, in fact, the case.”

However, the Beeb also quotes a UK researcher – not involved in the study – who has a slightly different interpretation:

Dr Magdalena Zawisza, a psychologist from Winchester University, said that there were a number of theories which might explain the difference.

She said: “It could be that more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources – money in this case – and also in terms of a woman who is submissive.

“Another theory suggests that employers are more likely to promote men who are the sole earner in preference to those who do not – they recognise that they need more support for their families, because they are the breadwinner.”

Comments From You

Laura Woodhouse // Posted 22 September 2008 at 11:52 pm

I was about to post on this! They miss out the bleeding obvious: that men who believe women’s place is in the home most probably won’t lift a finger to do housework or help with childcare so they are able to fit perfectly into an intensive, long-hours working system designed with them in mind. Less sexist men most probably don’t have a live-in servant/wife to do all the labour that allows them to work long hours for a high salary. Simple as that.

Tony Moll // Posted 23 September 2008 at 8:58 am

With the same education and opportunities, a conservative man will be richer than a liberal.

I don’t know, it has something to do with their general attitude. Liberals are famously caring slackers.

Shea // Posted 23 September 2008 at 12:04 pm

@ Tony Moll,

that isn’t in fact what the survey says. There is no mention of equality of education and opportunities. In fact it may be due to the old boys networks and cronyism, which rewards men who are available to play golf/go to strip clubs/whatever with other men rather than contribute to up keep of the household and caring for the child.

“Liberals are famously caring slackers.” According to you.

Liberals in my experience are famously more altruistic and therefore more likely to engage in voluntary work or take lower paying positions because they are more rewarding and socially useful, they also work harder as a result. That is the antithesis of “slacking”.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 23 September 2008 at 12:10 pm

Hm so apparently all male employees have ‘families’ for whom they are responsible. Odd because not all men are married or in long-term relationships. So, could the answer be quite simply that many companies and organisations still believe male employees are more capable than female employees, plus the workplace enacts a male-centered way of working, together with systems in place which still work against women seeking promotion. Sexism is not always overt but is increasing covert. As always it is more complex than this article would have us believe.

Remember change does not happen in a decade or a century instead it is a very long and hard road. Which explains partially why ‘traditional men’ apparently earn more than ‘traditional women’ because our society continues to be structured around presumption women belong in the home and men belong in the workplace. Prior to the industrial revolution this was not the case but changes in working practices limited women’s opportunities for work that paid well. Same with our technological society which is structured around belief a ‘worker’ is one wherein working long hours is normal because work is the most important aspect of a ‘worker’s life.’ Such is the idea of ‘breadwinner’ which presumes a man is this and a woman is the family care worker.

naath // Posted 23 September 2008 at 12:29 pm

They also note that sexist women earn less – which I guess just points out that “women’s jobs” pay a lot less than “men’s jobs” which leads to women who are only willing to work “women’s jobs” earning substantially less than women who work “men’s jobs”.

Less sexist men probably can’t work 15 hour days whilst wifey looks after the kids, cleans the house, makes the food and does all the other things that keep a house running smoothly.

Cara // Posted 23 September 2008 at 2:05 pm

What Laura said. Traditional gender roles give men the support system to slave at the office from 8 till 8 and come home to a wifey waiting with clean home and dinner ready (and probably G&T and slippers and pipe *vomits*).

Also what the researcher said at the end – employers like “family men” and assume they *need* pay rises and promotions, being the breadwinner and all. I mean, cos in their tiny minds women never work to support their families, in this day and age most couples need 2 incomes to support kids and no-one is ever a single parent of course…!

And single people have things to spend their money on that are as valid as kids – thinking of one of my colleagues right now who is putting herself through part-time Masters while working. Another guy in one of my previous jobs sent a lot of his earnings home to his parents in Poland. Some people save to go off travelling (and do valuable volunteer work). Whatever.

(I don’t mean this to sound like “kids are just a lifestyle choice” – they are more than that – and I’m all for employers being understanding of employees with kids, and flexible working and so on. But flexible hours etc. benefit people without kids too and should be extended to everyone. Everyone deserves a work-life balance. Everyone’s personal circumstances should be considered by their boss, and not used against them to prejudice their chances of progression.

My point is that paying men with kids more “because they have kids to support” is wrong.)

Sarah // Posted 23 September 2008 at 4:22 pm

I would think that since most single parents are mothers, and more lesbian couples have children than same-sex male couples, it’s fair to say that most parents (I mean people actually doing the parenting, not just biological parents) are women. So shouldn’t it be women who need to be paid more because they have children to support?

Of course, ideally people would be paid fairly for the work they do, regardless of gender and family structure.

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