SuperFreakonomics Book Club: Ask Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz About the Male-Female Wage Gap

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In the previous installment of our virtual book club, Sudhir Venkatesh answered your questions about his research on street prostitution.

Now, moving on to another section of Chapter One, here’s your chance to ask a pair of researchers about a central and pressing fact of U.S. economic life: the enduring wage gap between men and women.

Claudia Goldin is the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and director of the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Development of the American Economy program. Lawrence Katz is the Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics at Harvard and a research associate at the NBER. They are among the most esteemed economists in the world at sorting out labor questions, historical and present, especially when it comes to the male-female divide.

Here are a few sections of SuperFreakonomics in which we rely on their research:

For American women twenty- five and older who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and work full- time, the national median income is about $47,000. Similar men, meanwhile, make more than $66,000, a premium of 40 percent. The same is true even for women who attend the nation’s elite universities. The economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz found that women who went to Harvard earned less than half as much as the average Harvard man. Even when the analysis included only full-time, full-year employees and controlled for college major, profession, and other variables, Goldin and Katz found that the Harvard women still earned about 30 percent less than their male counterparts.

What can possibly account for such a huge wage gap? There are a variety of factors. Women are more likely to leave the workforce or downshift their careers to raise a family. Even within high-paying occupations like medicine and law, women tend to choose specialties that pay less (general practitioner, for instance, or in-house counsel). And there is likely still a good amount of discrimination. This may range from the overt – denying a woman a promotion purely because she is not a man – to the insidious. A considerable body of research has shown that overweight women suffer a greater wage penalty than overweight men. The same is true for women with bad teeth.

And:

Among the top fifteen hundred companies in the United States, only about 2.5 percent of the highest paying executive positions are held by women. This is especially surprising given that women have earned more than 30 percent of all the master’s in business administration (MBA) degrees at the nation’s top colleges over the past twenty- five years. Their share today is at its highest yet, 43 percent.

The economists Marianne Bertrand, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence Katz tried to solve this wage- gap puzzle by analyzing the career outcomes of more than 2,000 male and female MBAs from the University
of Chicago.

Their conclusion: while gender discrimination may be a minor contributor to the male-female wage differential, it is desire – or the lack thereof – that accounts for most of the wage gap. The economists identified three main factors:

Women have slightly lower GPAs than men and, perhaps more important, they take fewer finance courses. All else being equal, there is a strong correlation between a finance background and career earnings.

Over the first fifteen years of their careers, women work fewer hours than men, 52 per week versus 58. Over fifteen years, that six-hour difference adds up to six months’ less experience.

Women take more career interruptions than men. After ten years in the workforce, only 10 percent of male MBAs went for six months or more without working, compared with 40 percent of female MBAs.

The big issue seems to be that many women, even those with MBAs, love kids. The average female MBA with no children works only 3 percent fewer hours than the average male MBA. But female MBAs with children work 24 percent less. “The pecuniary penalties from shorter hours and any job discontinuity among MBAs are enormous,” the three economists write. “It appears that many MBA mothers, especially those with well-off spouses, decided to slow down within a few years following their first birth.”

We write a lot more in the chapter about women’s wages, but this should give you enough ammunition to ask Goldin and Katz some good questions. Leave your questions in the comments section below and, as always, we’ll post their answers in short course. If you’re interested in reading some of the underlying research papers, you can find them here, here (with co-author Ilyana Kuziemko), and here (with co-author Bertrand).

Addendum: Katz and Goldin answer your questions here.

Leave A Comment

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COMMENTS: 61


  1. Trevey Davis says:

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  2. Mario says:

    What careers have the most equal pay for women, and which ones have the widest gaps in pay?

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  3. Banty says:

    It would be interesting to look at women who did not have children, and compare men’s salaries with women’s salaries.

    And do the same analysis including only men who did not have children.

    Married vs. single, and for men, and for women.

    And, finance alone may have been skewing the numbers given their extremely high salaries of late, if finance tends to have more men going into that field. Looking at the numbers again (and also breaking out for kids vs. no kids vs. gender) would be interesting.

    I’m an empiricist – when I read (or hear, in my engineering job) too much handwaving, I want folks to go back into the data and mine it more.

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  4. deron says:

    This is tangential, though maybe interesting thought.

    I know several men who are out of work. Their impression is that many employers seems reluctant to consider them when the employer perceives that they would be accepting a pay cut, or other measure of under-employment.

    This raises an interesting set of questions, though perhaps not significant. Are employers more willing to hire a female employee who is seeking perceived under-employment, than they are of men seeking under-employment?

    Societal acceptance of women’s career interruptions might condition employers to accept that women are more likely to accept or embrace a “step back”, while assuming that men won’t.

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  5. Anu Chitrapu says:

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    • Kadir says:

      Logic Fail!

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    • Simon says:

      “As a woman with an MBA from a top school I want to state that I definitely DO NOT work fewer hours than my male classmates even though I do have kids.”

      That’s a very nice self-assessment, but I’d like to hear what your employer thinks. After all, just about every employee thinks that they should be the employee of the month, every month. I mean for example, if a crime’s been committed, the very last person you’d expect to get a straight answer from is the one accused.

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  6. KarenS says:

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  7. Josiah Lambert says:

    Does the age difference between spouses account for any of this difference in compensation? Perhaps women who marry men somewhat older than themselves will have husbands with higher pay because they’ve been out in the workforce longer. When the couple has to make decisions about who will cut back on work to raise children or who will follow the other in a job transfer, I would expect that the younger, lower-paid spouse would work less or become the trailing spouse. In the latter case, the trailing spouse would have fewer opportunities to get ahead in most cases.

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  8. Travis L says:

    Some statistical information would be good, to further want Banty just said. I’d be curious to see how much the high end CEO-level wages skew male salaries. So my question is this:

    - what do the numbers look like when you control for other confounders? Why not compare M/F within the same career field? Does the male average get skewed by the highest end of the salary range (if 97% of C-levels are men, and they get paid the most, etc.)

    Thanks for the great work!

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  9. John Owens says:

    “All else being equal, there is a strong correlation between a finance background and career earnings.”

    I recall a study a few years ago (though not well enough to cite it properly) that found women’s choice of graduate program in Psychology was strongly negatively correlated with the statistics requirement of the program. Given that Finance is highly quantitative (often graduate finance programs are co-listed with graduate-level mathematics offerings), should the finance differential be attributed to math aversion?

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  10. KarenS says:

    Another thought–perhaps one of the reasons more women take time off work for kids more often than men is because they’re already making less in their job. The lower pay might be the cause instead of the effect.

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  11. L says:

    If I read Glass (2004) correctly, many of the adverse effects of taking time off are ameliorated when the woman changes jobs, which naively indicates that the major reason for depressed wages due to taking time off is due to a discrimination (conscious or unconscious) after the mother returns to work. As opposed to the time off adversely influencing the mother’s skills and hence her compensation. Do either Goldin or Katz have an insight on whether this study in particular is persuasive or generally whether this major confound is ruled out in the studies they do find persuasive?

    Glass, J. (2004). Blessing or curse?: Work-family policies and mother’s wage growth over time. Work and Occupations, 31, 367-394

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  12. Harold Cline says:

    I don’t believe your conclusion that there is little discrimination against women MBAs follows from the numerical evidence. Women may work fewer hours and take breaks in their career to have children that is true, but the timing of those decisions are endogenous. You do mention that income effect of a rich husband, but don’t mention whether a woman faces the same wage progression if she stays on the job. While MBA men may not have taken off time to have a baby, many male MBAs do take off to set up small businesses particularly during the dot.com mania or during the hedge fund boom. Are they penalized as well when they return to the big organizations. The structure of the job market that rewards sticking with one skill or company, and never take on new challenges hardly makes sense in a changing economy.

    I would think that there are significant cohort effects as well. The four bankers of the apocalypse before the senate committee were all male, as well as most CEOs of the 1000 companies For younger groups, there may not be any discrimination particularly in certain fields, but I would think you would have to go back the drawing board to correct for the biases, selection biases and unknowns.

    Harvard economists have been known to make silly statements about gender bias. At least your not attributing the differences in pay to innate ability, but suggesting its because of individual choice maybe worse.
    I believe economists should get out more. Having worked in many of the top banks those who are in charge are the ones who can shout louder and intimate others, and decision making ability and skill may not be the criteria for advancement.

    As the father of three daughters and a son, I not sure what advice to give them now. To believe they will not have to fight discrimination on many dimensions is far too simple.

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  13. Michael K says:

    Who is setting the initial salaries of these groups, and is there any data on them and their decision making?

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  14. bumblebee611 says:

    Bluntly categorizing these gender disparities as the result of “desire” not “discrimination” depends entirely on what we call “discrimination” and what is so imbricated in the fabric of our society that we don’t even see it as discrimination. Even if we accept as a starting point that many women supposedly “opt out” to spend more time at home with children, while their high-earning husbands put in more hours at the workplace, isn’t the real question what leads to the difference in approach to childcare versus earning responsibilities? Your approach (at least what is excerpted here, with the conclusion that it’s about “desire not discrmination”) seems to omit this most fundamental question. The question of what leads to the gender variation in career and parenting choices is what gets to the root of whether the wage gap arises from women’s essential and inherent love for babies, from overt and intentional discrimination, or from something in between. For example, perhaps some of those relatively young and high-earning heterosexual couples decided that the female half of the couple should become the primary caregiver to their young children not because the woman really loved playing pat-a-cake but because both partners looked at the people at the top of the totem pole and decided the woman didn’t really have much of a shot, so why bother putting effort where it might well be for naught? I wouldn’t exactly say that election occurs because women, even those with MBAs, love babies.

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  15. vj says:

    Has anyone done a study on how women fare negotiating a salary? I know that I tend to value my work less than my husband values his, despite that I have an advanced degree and he never finished college. I also wonder if women have more difficulty negotiating a salary, because asking for a lot of money might seem aggressive or self-aggrandizing, or because an interviewer (male or female) might not believe that a woman is worth as much as a man.

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  16. science minded says:

    Dear Anu;

    As a part-time employeee, full time sociologist and mom and wife, I agree. My day often begins at 4:30 am or ends 2 am. Either way, my sociological work is my work (however little I have been paid for it). Lately, I have been fortunate to have inherited some income. But until recently, my paid work (not my sociological work) was for paying the bills. I do love to teach and to do research and have been involved in all kinds of and numerous income producing projects, but (aside from home and family), my real work is of science. You can call the wage gap whatever you like- Just saw the movie The Foundtainhead. Must have seen it as a kid because I remember it. And I do identify with the architect in that film.He reminds me of myself. I just kept it to myself for a very long time until a friend forced the issue.

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  17. M.B. says:

    These conclusions are were also supported by Robert B. Reich as previously discussed here. So shouldn’t this be the end of the debate. Why does the political mainstream want to pass more laws to right the wrongs. Won’t attempts to equalize pay be sub-optimal if the current situation reflects choices we each make that are in our best intrrests? Or does government really know what is best for us but we are not smart enough to figure it out ourselves?

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  18. ktb says:

    This is kind of tangential, but do men with kids work fewer ours than men without kids?

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  19. Norm says:

    It looks like, in the UK at least, single women with no children outearn their male counterparts
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1145973/How-paid-men-Stay-single.html
    and urban women outearn men in the US
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/urban-women-earn-more-than-men-460217.html
    Is there any reason to think that any differences in wages at this point are anything more than a reflection of the differences in individual choises that the different genders tend to make?

    Also, it seems that, in the current economy, men have suffered much more from unemployment than women have
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/business/06women.html
    http://www.examiner.com/x-830-Workplace-Law-Examiner~y2009m1d13-Womens-unemployment-rate-is-lower-than-mens
    http://economy.kansascity.com/?q=node/439
    What are the long term implications of these kinds of shifts in the work force?

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  20. ktb says:

    I have no doubt that raising a family has a huge impact on the career decisions women make. As I’m in the position of trying to start a family right now, I can easily see that it may not just be an issue of how many hours I plan to stay at work, but how agressively I pursue a more fulfilled but demanding position that would require more hours of me and give me opportunity for recognition. The concern is that I may not be able to balance my work life in that more demanding position, where as I can get the job I’m in now with fewer hours and less stress on my part.

    However, I notice you don’t talk much about self-estimation. I had heard that when applying for jobs, men on average were much more likely to apply for a position that they did not meet 100% of the qualifications for, where as women tend to want to meet all stated criteria. I would assume this would also indciate women are less likely to sell themselves in interviews, salary negotiation (or may even make them less likely to think to negotiate salary), or performance reviews. Have you included this in your research?

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  21. Rick says:

    What seems absent from this conversation is an accurate description of the process by which wage is determined. It is my personal experience that while job or title sets a range of possible wages, there is invariably a negotiation which takes place to determine the final wage.

    While I think there is certainly reason to suspect that employers are factoring in the increased risk of voluntary exit (and thus try to hedge against this cost through lower wages), I think we must first show that men and women are pursuing the same wages in the same jobs.

    Further, because wage increases are often on a percentage basis, an initial difference could be doubled after 10 years through this effect alone. If women are settling for lower wages early in their careers, this sets them on a trajectory that will make it increasingly difficult for them to ever close that gap.

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  22. PaulD says:

    Q. A thought experiment: Suppose the existence of an impartial, omniscient observer (e.g., a non-sexist God). Suppose further that this perfect observer deems the state of compensation with respect to gender perfectly fair. Would state of the art econometric analysis agree that compensation was perfectly fair? And supposing that this analysis of mere mortals were to conclude that things were essentially fair, how likely do you think is that feminist interest groups would still be crying foul?

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  23. Andy says:

    If you consider only women/men that have roughly equal work experience, education level, hours worked, GPA, marital status, and number of children, is there still a wage gap?

    If you run a regression predicting wage based on those factors along with sex, what are the results?

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  24. Hillary says:

    Are there fields or areas you would recommend your daughters pursue? Avoid?

    Also, I second Anu’s question regarding sectors. Six years out of undergraduate, most of my classmates have completed our masters or professional degrees. However, our salaries vary depending on field and goals. The male librarians I know don’t make any more than the women.

    For female MBAs, I wonder if it has anything to do with the tendency in full-time programs to marry other students. At some point the couple will probably have to move for one person’s career, and the other may choose to step out of the workforce or be required to because of visa restrictions.

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  25. Lisa says:

    When you compare apples to apples (ie a childless, college-educated 29 yr old female in an urban area to childless, college-educated 29 yr old man in an urban area), what’s the real wage discrepancy?
    Isn’t the real problem of the gendered wage gap that we keep getting statistics that aren’t controlling for the issues the obviously cause people to make decisions that affect their wages? If a mom chooses to leave the workforce for 5 years to be a parent, it is not exactly shocking that she would then have a tough time coming back into the workfore at or above her previous wage, nor is it shocking that she’d be less likely to vault up the “corporate ladder” in terms of pay. Right?
    Also, I’d love to hear about an apples to apples comparison of stay-at-home moms and dads to see if that still holds true.
    Finally, I’d be interested to see the new proportion of female to male primary household breadwinners these days.

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  26. Erik says:

    While I agree that there is tremendous economical benefit in raising children that become productive members of society, this benefit certainly should not be paid for by a private employer…unless one promised that their kids would work there.

    Choosing to take time off during one’s prime earning years to raise a family can make excellent economic sense. Children often feel an obligation to take care of their parents later in life.

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  27. sasha says:

    1. Are women being paid less because they take time off for kids, or are they being paid less because employers expect them to take time off for kids? If an employer puts you on the “mommy track” simply for being female, and pays you less or doesn’t promote you as often, perhaps when you do have a child, the fact that you’re already being paid less gives you less incentive to return to work.

    2. How would providing paternity leave benefits affect the wage gaps? Maybe women take more time off because their employers allow them to.

    3. I believe women on average get married and start families at a younger age than men. So, maybe women in their late 20s are working less because they are likely to have a baby at home, but men don’t have babies at home until they’re older. Do men cut back on hours when they first have kids? What is the ratio of hours worked between female MBAs with children and male MBAs with children? Is it possible that women incur more of a penalty for taking leave earlier in their careers?

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  28. Mark B says:

    Men are judged by their earning ability so they expend more of their resources to reap financial gain. Women are judged on their beauty so they use more of their resources to look more attractive. One only needs to look at who has more cosmetic surgery . There may still be some bias, however, I doubt the gap will close completely.

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  29. Dr. Manak says:

    I think it is fabulous that you plug your book every third of fourth blog entry

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  30. Rick says:

    I recall a study regarding salary negotiations during hiring. It showed that women were more likely to accept the first offer and men were more likely to reject the first offer and to ask for more money even if the offer was completely acceptable.

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  31. logan says:

    I recently read the book Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters which is essentially a brief introduction into the more fascinating aspects of evolutionary psychology. I find that some of the issues, when brought up with others, are very unpalatable.

    For example, one of the issues spoken of in the book is the prevalence of the wage gap between genders. If I remember correctly, the authors say that the difference is due to the fact that women are primarily concerned with their children’s well being where as men are more concerned with succeeding professionally. The point being that the psychology inherent in men and women is different; women are concerned with protecting their offspring where as men, at least subconsciously, know that their odds of passing on their genes is largely determined by their wealth/success. This difference, at least with the experiments they reference, supposedly explains 98% of the difference in earning between men and women which of course doesn’t do the standard models of prejudice and bias an favors. Of course I’m skipping all sorts of relevant details and paraphrasing from memory.

    My question is – is this at all a prevailing thought in this field or even a respected one? The people I’ve spoken with seem very unwilling to accept such an idea as is the case with many of the other issues in the book.

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  32. Neela says:

    Is there any evidence that differences in the level of specific vs. general knowledge partially explain the differences in was inequalities across industries and positions?

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  33. Bruce says:

    I’ve witnessed salary equality in some settings I or my family/friends have worked: specifically public-sector jobs where standard job classifications and salary schedules are followed (including teaching). Similarly, in firms where I’ve worked, in same job classes, particularly in engineering, pay for women and men is exactly the same.

    So in these kinds of jobs, would any long-term disparity really represent women stepping off the career track a while, or not even pursuing promotions in order to better balance work and family?

    Does the data suggest certain types of jobs demonstrate lessor or greater disparity, and perhaps for different reasons?

    A different question altogether is whether and why roles that (more so in the past) are typically associated with women may have lower pay scales, such as teaching and nursing.

    Thanks!

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  34. htb says:

    to Harold Cline (@12): Setting up a small business, e.g., during the dot com boom *is* “working”. It is typically working an enormous number of hours, as a matter of fact.

    In my experience, a dot com startup really did mean working 70, 80, or 90 hours per week, for months on end. There’s a reason that we had a room filled with bean bags and sleeping bags, food in the kitchen, a shower in the bathrooms, and a spare set of clothes in nearly every desk: It’s because the staff didn’t always manage to go home at night.

    Staying home to feed the baby has many wonderful social and relational benefits, but it is not “working” in the “getting paid for using your MBA” sense.

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  35. Christopher Strom says:

    I’ll echo both Banty’s and Bruce’s questions:

    To describe “gender inequity in pay scales” seems very broad without controlling for certain factors such as marital status, continuity of employment, and especially field of work. I would think that some fields would permit more discretion in the setting of pay (business managers with MBA) than others (engineers with PEs).

    Accordingly, do the data show varying gender inequity in pay across fields of work? And is the inequity consistent within a field or does it vary across employers? Is there even sufficient data to parse it in this way?

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  36. Jason says:

    Why not look at medians instead of averages? Averages can be scewed too easily by some very high wage earners.

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  37. elena says:

    I’ve just read Freakonomics…what an amazing book! Congratulations from Gijón, Spain

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  38. dave says:

    Interesting, what I just read was that women do a better job of jprioritizing what is important as they age (i.e. job vs. family). I’d love a tangental analysis of these same groups and life expectancy, I bet it would be eye opening….

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  39. Kathleen says:

    So you’re saying that men don’t love kids?

    from the article –
    “The big issue seems to be that many women, even those with MBAs, love kids. “

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  40. Bowen says:

    You stated a major reason for the discrepancy of male-female wages was a woman’s “love for kids”. Have you considered that this “love for kids” is acutally a manifestation of societal norms requiring the woman to play an active role in the child-rearing process. I would like to see data for the men who take over the traditionally female role of rearing their kids. Is there a discrepancy there as well? If yes, societal norms might be a more accurate reason as compared to female discrimination.

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  41. jac says:

    How much do the desires of men play into pay descrepencies. I have heard in other discussions on the subject that men rate income as being more important than women do. As such they are in general willing to work in less desirable less rewarding conditions then women if it will earn extra money. It seems to make sense that if men in general want to make more money they would tend to do what it takes to earn more money.

    Do you think there are professions that suffer from a legacy of inequality? I would guess that when gender discrimination in the workforce was more rampent professions mostly practiced by women would have made much less money than those practiced by men. Are there professions that still earn less because they were traditionally women’s jobs.

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  42. Mark Semo says:

    I’m new to this site and can’t wait to get an autographed copy of your book. I am a voracious reader since being stuck in this wheelchair 4 years ago.

    Thanks again for the free books.

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  43. Dan Rosenberry says:

    As others have alluded, there are a lot of factors that are hard to tease out.

    Do women choose to reduce their hours because it’s less costly to the household income due to overall reduced lifetime earnings, or do they have reduced lifetime earnings because they make different choices? Which factor is driving, the societal discrimination or the individual’s choices? What is known that can distinguish between the two?

    Wages might diverge due to the potential for children. If there’s a chance that the employee might take time off down the road, that should impact present pay. How big is the impact? How can it be quantified? How can women credibly commit to not doing so?

    Otherwise all women without children will bear the implicit costs of those that eventually choose to take time off, leading to lowered pay for women, leading to all women choosing to take time off. Is there a pay gap before time is taken off? How much of that is due to the possibility of future time not worked? How can this be disambiguated from discrimination?

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  44. LisaC says:

    What does this look like controlled for race?

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  45. Christy in Austin says:

    Maternity leave is a sizable cost to the firm. Firms need to hire and train temporary workers or increase the workload of her co-workers, while still paying the pregnant employee. A rational firm would consider this cost when hiring future employees that are expected to take maternity leave.

    In your research, how can we control for this effect and bargaining process (price taker vs. price setter) between an employer and potential employee?

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  46. sean says:

    i am a bit shocked to hear women have slightly lower GPAs.

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  47. arthur stowe says:

    if u r still deeply committed to learning about women’s rights issues, and some day hope or plan to help get equal rights for women:

    i think u will find this n at least some of the comments worth knowing about.

    love n hugs n kisses,

    bigdad

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  48. Jackie O says:

    The generalized conclusion in this is skewed. Are the comparatives the same? Ex: 1.) Are we comparing men vs/ women at the same company, with the same education, doing the same job, for the same amount of time, with the same results? If not, this is nothing more valid than speculative theory…

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  49. Shan says:

    Ummm… I am wondering if you just count the women whose partner earns less than they do, including the house husbands,will they earn more than their female colleagues and similar to the male counterparts? It is based on the hypothesis that people earn more money when they feel the necessities.

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  50. LP says:

    Which gender switches jobs more?

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  51. Ruth says:

    Are discrepancies a result of ineffective measurement of performance? How accurate are measurements of hours worked for salaried workers? How accurate are measurements of performance compared to the long-term performance of the company (on a scale ranging from Steve Jobs at Apple to Richard Fuld of bankrupt Lehman Brothers down to Ken Lay of Enron)?

    Do male and female MBAs count schmoozing time differently when they calculate hours?

    How do wage discrepancies look when you look at other groups of employees — for instance, do the MBAs who smoke and work for smokers have higher salaries than the MBA nonsmokers who work for smokers?

    Are salary discrepancies higher in companies where compensation is secretive and employees have to sign documents saying they won’t reveal compensation? Are salary discrepancies higher or lower in companies that provide bonuses?

    Would it be better public policy to regulate discrimination or to require all compensation to be public information? Do MBA recipients measure salary against personal goals or do they measure salary against others working in the same company, and if they measure against those in the company, what to they think they know about others’ compensation and how accurate is their information?

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  52. Chris says:

    One possible flaw with your starting point is that the ambition level of the 2000 male students is the same for 2000 female students. There are certainly females that are every bit as ambitious as males, but I would guess there is less of them in the general population. I don’t know how the University of Chicago handles enrollment, but if some sort of pro-diversity system is used, then there would be more competition amongst males. I am curious if there is a disparity in the GPAs of the 2000 males vs. 2000 females. Do students with the same GPA get the same starting salary? Do those same students (those that do not start a family) have a salary disparity after 5 years? I’m not even sure GPA is a good measure of ambition, does high GPA correlate with high hrs/week in the workforce?

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  53. Sumitra Shah says:

    My apologies if this was mentioned in some post, but I find it curious that nobody is offended by the argument that maybe women ‘love’ babies and therefore sacrifice higher incomes to have them and bring them up. And men don’t? Or men shouldn’t? The way the market economy is working, the deck is already stacked against women; and our implicit acceptance of this division of labor (even of labor of love) bodes ill for females.

    The Swedish system of requiring both fathers and mothers to take paid leave at children’s birth maybe just the recipe that is needed in America to move in the right direction towards real gender equality in the workplace.
    In Sweden, a parental allowance is paid out for a total of 480 days when a child is born or adopted. Women claim most of the days. In 2008, men claimed about 20 percent of parental leave. But another provision is also important:

    Each parent has 60 days of leave reserved specifically for him or her, which means these days cannot be transferred to the other parent.

    The father of a newborn baby gets 10 extra days’ leave in connection with the birth of their child. With the birth of twins, a father is entitled to 20 days’ leave

    If we don’t encourage men to be full participants in the household, we come up with reductionist and circular arguments like families rationally deciding that men would not spend time in childcare like women because their incomes are already higher than women’s. The stigma attached to men withdrawing from work is not a fantasy.

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  54. the viking says:

    Why should I ask you a question? I already had concluded that from over 20 years in public and private sector. Is it a revelation to you that could only be discovered by your research? What you should do is study gay and lesbian couples with children and determine if there is a difference in hours worked between the two partners. I think I know that answer too but I am not going to help you.

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  55. ChallengeX says:

    Have you done any studies across high pressure/low pressure jobs? Also, the averages in terms of salaries/hours are not a good measure, since for many MBA jobs the pay does not increase linearly with the hours worked.

    A friend of mine, a then recent graduate of a top school MBA programm, was looking for a job a few years ago. And the search was not going too well, even though the market was bubbling. She explained that there are plenty of jobs paying $150K and up + bonus, however, they all require 70+ hrs workweeks. This was unacceptable for a mother of a young child. She ended up taking $80K job with 45 hrs workweek. She had all the requirements, the strong quantitative background, etc. She was getting offers for the high paying jobs, but she is now a statistics in the pay gap.

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  56. Raquel says:

    Recently a friend that has a small kid just told me she was in competition to climb a level in her company’s hierachy, but she was not sure she wanted the position.
    Even if the number of ours that she would have to work was going to be the same, the position was associated with much more resposability.

    My view is then that those women might be choosing to cool down on their carreers not for the hours spent in the office, but for the quality of their ours spent at home.

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  57. www.highflyingladies.com says:

    why stop at such a superficial level of explanation. Okay, so women have less ambition and less desire to advance, according to research. Don’t you want to find out why? Why is it that women have less ambition? Why don’t they aim as high? Where does this lack of self-confidence and settling for less come from? What can be done about it? These are the real questions that should be addressed.

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  58. Leanna says:

    Lack of desire? As a reason, that’s really funny! Your research is a joke.
    Loving kids? That’s even funnier! Women love their children more than men? That’s what you’re basically saying. It’s social/cultural pressure on women to take on the unpaid labour in the home.
    What time does school end? What time does work for parents end? Society is set up so someone has to has to give in! Unfair. There’s a lot more going on to explain the wage gap and your so called research is misleading.

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