Myth Buster: Men earn more than women for the same job

Myth Buster: Men earn more than women for the same job

“Women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work.” The percentage in statements like this changes from year to year, but the misperception doesn’t.  People deeply vested in feminism still try to convince the population that women are suffering from workplace discrimination.

Perhaps the most thought provoking and logical challenge to this mindset is this:

“If an employer had to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman could do for 77 cents, why would anyone hire a man?”

Employers will do whatever it takes to help their business make a profit and if someone can do and will do the exact job for less – they’ve got the job and it doesn’t matter what sex they are!

Warren Farrell, author of “Why Men Earn More” is quick to point out that there is something else going on in the employment world and “that something else” has to do with the difference in the choices made by men and women.

So is it women’s choices or men discriminating against them? 

Here are some things for consideration.

  1. Women choose different professions.  In general, women prefer regular hours, less travel, jobs with less risk, comfortable working conditions and greater flexibility.  (But so does everyone!  That’s why the market doesn’t pay as much – many people will fill those jobs.)
  2.  Men have uninterrupted work experience and are more willing to relocate and to travel.  This sheds some light on the statistic that eighty-four percent of all “frequent flyers” are males.
  3. Men more often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions. Men will put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more – most women won’t.  Looking at hazardous jobs, 92 percent of workplace deaths occur to men.[i]

A study that found a 12% pay gap that favored men.  Through dissecting the data the researchers determined:   “Just over half the women (vs. 32 % of the men) stressed the importance of a socially useful job, whereas men were almost twice as likely to stress salary.”[ii]

As Warren Farrell states:  “Once differences in fulfillment and flexibility were accounted for, there was only a 2% remaining pay gap.   In brief, the gender pay gap is better explained as a gender fulfillment gap.”[iii]

For a thorough understanding of this topic we highly recommend the book:  Why Men Earn More:  The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap – and What Women Can do About It.   The book is framed in a positive way that can benefit both men and women.

Some Data on the Male/Female Wage Gap

A 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. 

Women on average work fewer hours, 8.01 hours per day on the job for women and 8.75 hours for a full-time working man. U.S. Dept. of Labor Time Use Survey

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average person working 45 hours per week earns 44% more pay – 44% more pay for 13% more work.  U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, March 2003. (Average worker working 45 hours per week earns $913 while average worker working 40 hours earns $634).

Unmarried men and unmarried women working 50+ hours per week earn exactly the same salaries.  U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March Supplement, 2002.

Women are less than half as likely as men to work in excess of 50 hours per week.  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, April 2004.

In measuring the work load of CEO’s of Fortune 1000 companies, it was determined that they typically worked 15-hour days  for a period of almost 20 years – often six days per week.  Working 80 to 90-hour weeks for two decades is part of the price of attaining a CEO’s covetable salary and status.  Leslie Kaufman-Rosen with Claudia Kalb, “Holes in the Glass Ceiling Theory,” Newsweek, March 27, 1995:  24-25.

On average, men spend about an additional one and a half years in their current occupations, and between five and nine years longer in their overall work lives than women.  Raw data from U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), 2001 – full time workers from aged 21-64.  David L. Millimet, et.al., “Estimating Worklife Expectancy:  An Econometric Approach,” Journal of Econometrics, 113 (2003):  83-113.

Each additional year in a man’s current occupation gives him approximately 3-4% annual pay increase.  Raw data from U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), 2001 – full time workers from aged 21-64.  David L. Millimet, et.al., “Estimating Worklife Expectancy:  An Econometric Approach,” Journal of Econometrics, 113 (2003):  83-113.  See Note 28.

In a study of the top five executives at almost 3,000 of the largest U.S. firms, the women’s average age was 48 while the men’s average age was 53.  Prior to age 40, women are 15 times more likely than their male counterparts to become top executives at major corporations.   Yet the study revealed that male executives still worked more hours, traveled more, moved more, had more job continuity, and earned more MBAs.  Korn/Ferry International and UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, “Decade of the Executive Woman,” 22. Table 1.


[i] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 4, “Fatal Occupational Injuries and Employment by Selected Worker Characteristics,” 2002, Census of Fatal Occupation Injuries.

[ii] Chevalier, “Motivation, Expectations, and the Gender Pay Gap,” for UK Graduates.  Paper presented at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference, Warwick, England, 7-9 April, 2003.

[iii] Warren Farrell, “Why Men Earn MORE:  the startling truth behind the pay gap – and what women can do about it,” 2005, AMCOM, American Management Association:  New York, NY.

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