In the Battle of the Sexes, Partisans Outearn Peacemakers


Call it a self-fulfilling stereotype.

Men who believe a woman’s place is in the home, rather than in the workplace, are likely to earn substantially more than men who believe women deserve equal pay for equal work. That’s according to a new study, by University of Florida organizational psychologists Timothy Judge and Beth Livingston, of 12,686 Americans and how their understanding of gender roles affected their earnings over time.

That male chauvinism works to the advantage of men in a male-dominated marketplace shouldn’t be surprising. But the magnitude of the effect took the study’s authors by surprise: sexist men earned, on average, $11,930 more per year than their egalitarian male counterparts over a 25-year period.

The effect works in reverse for women. While they still earned slightly less than egalitarian-minded men, women who believed in gender equality earned $1,052 more per year than women who held more “traditional” views.

In other words, for both sexes, it pays to pick a side.

We can think of at least two other studies that seem to illustrate this effect.

A 2007 study found that female executives (who are outnumbered eight to one in corporate America) earn roughly $16,000 more per year than male executives. Presumably, female executives believe in gender equality. Considering how relatively thin their ranks are, they know what it means to have fought for it.

That same year, women living in major American cities earned substantially more than men in the same age groups (women in their 20’s earned 17 percent more in New York, and 20 percent more in Dallas, Tex.), according to a study by Andrew Beveridge, of Queens College. Beveridge attributed the flip-flopped wage gap to the fact that, in cities, more women tended to be college educated than men, and their lifestyle choices bucked traditional gender roles.

Shoshana Grossbard

hardly surprising. Men who prefer women to stay home and take care of them need to pay for that.

Women rarely want to do this kind of domestic production for free. Therefore, men need more income to afford women's marital household production. More on that topic in this freakonomics column:

posted by Shoshana Grossbard


I agree with # 31.

It would seem logical that men who believed that women's place is at home would feel extra pressure on themselves as sole providers of the family, and would therefore work harder than men who expect women to work as well.

Thomas Brownback

Could this be related to stereotype threat?


It's always risky to infer causality from correlation.

In this case I posit the following simple counterexample that shows a noncausal relationship to attitudes alone (rather than desired outcome), requiring only an ability to influence one's ultimate earning potential.

Men who believe in a "traditional" relationship require more income in order to support that model. Women who believe in a "non-traditional" relationship also require more income in order to support that model.

In each case, the end result matches the results seen. Since there are myriad ways to increase your earning potential -- extra education, longer hours, riskier endeavors, "going the extra mile", more aggressive job searching and/or salary negotiation -- both sexes have the ability to achieve the desired end. Thus no causal relationship need apply and such pronoucements are bogus.


Is there any correlation with beliefs and location?

Perhaps men who are in favor of unequal pay live in areas of the country where employers are more likely to pay men more. If a region employs women below their fair market value then the companies might have additional money available to compensate the male employees while keeping the total payroll expenses in line with other regions.

It pays to be part of the good old boys network.


When my wife worked part-time and I worked two jobs, I made considerably more than she did. And many times I asked her to assume the role of equal by returning to school, accepting greater responsibilities, and getting a better paying position. She demurred, saying she had no such ambitions. My now ex-wife still makes considerably less than me, but it isn't (and wasn't) because of MY sexist worldview. It was her parents' views and her adoption of them that created and sustained the inequality. She was always capable of earning more.


Makes sense completely. Men who prefer a more traditional situation would also have a greater drive to be the families provider - this would cause them to be more active in their quest for higher compensation. Women who prefer this lifestyle, would not have income maixmization high on their priority list.

On the flip side, single men or men who wish their spouse to work outside the home would have not have the same incentive to maximize income. Women who wish to develop a career place lower priority on developing their home and place higher priority on income maximization.


Recently in my economics class, we have been learning about how households used to run in the past, and how they are now. The evolution of households has been extraordinary, since other decision makers, such as firms and governments, have contributed to what they are nowadays. Since women used to stay at home and take care of it, men were supposed to bring food to the table. With the evolution of the household, nowadays more women work outside their house. This article is very interesting since it shows how “tradition” can affect society. For example, the men who did believe in the tradition of women staying at home, while they were out working playing their role, probably felt more motivated to do a better job, in order to earn what they are supposed to. While that woman who believed that they are equal worked hard, in order to prove themselves they can also play the role of a working wife. This only proves us one thing, the human mind is a very powerful thing; the determination these people had is amazing. With this kind of determination and effort, as maxiCMS states, probably this is the road to an efficient economy.


Russ Clarke

It is stated that the "effect works in reverse for women." I think, depending on your point of view, that the statement is incorrect. Men who believe that men should make more money than women make more money than those who don't. Women who believe that women should be paid more than they are (since women make less than men in comparable jobs) make more than those women who don't. Aren't the two thoughts the same?

Simon Halliday

Darren, I couldn't agree more. Poor reporting. Change your language, be more specific about the sample. Don't over-generalize.


No one that I saw in the comments brought up the simple fact that a wage earner (regardless of sex) that has a completely supportive spouse at home taking care of all things domestic has much more energy to be devoted to work even if their hours are staying the same. This person comes home to supper, the kids home work is done, the house is clean, the dog is walked, their lunch is made for tomorrow, the laundry is done, the eye appointment is made for next week, the coverage forms are filled out . . . they wake up tomorrow and can concentrate on work and work only.

In the dual income household this same person would come home, fill out their own papers, help their kids with homework, cook supper on their nights, do a load of laundry, make their own lunch, tidy up the house, take the dog out, and call during work hours to make any appointments, and share in taking time off when the kids are sick. It all adds up to a disparity in salary.



I haven't had a chance to read the book, but does it rule out the relationship between attitudes on women in the workplace and the job status of their spouse? If you are a man and your spouse works wouldn't you want your spouse to earn more rather than less for equal work?


On the male side, you have your causalities in reverse. Higher earning men can AFFORD to have their women folk stay at home, and are much more likely to be paired with a "trophy-wife" (who is perfectly happy to oblige). As I assume we are talking in marginal functions here, my comments make no absolute statement but simply try to address the appropriate causality. If the results are plotted out by income level, you would probably find a nice curve.


Drawing conclusions from beliefs is useless. "male chauvinism works to the advantage of men"... unless the belief has followed from causes.

Measuring single earners 1-year income, only, also makes many of the University of Florida's conclusions useless.

Quoting the study:

"Earnings. For each of the four time periods, the amount of pay

received each year from wages and salary was assessed with

participants’ responses to the following open-ended interviewer

question: “Not counting any money you received from your military

service during [YEAR], how much did you receive from

wages, salary, commissions, or tips from all jobs, before deductions

for taxes or anything else?”"

This says nothing about non-monetary job conditions, and risks(for example, that the most physically heavy, dirty, dangerous, and deadly work is given to men and paid accordingly). It says nothing about conditions that extend beyond one year (job security, pay reflecting career potential, etc.- something that is much affected by decisions made by either gender, for example, the choice to leave work and have children, or that lower pay may often come with better security.) Also: when there's an 8-year gap in life expectancy, inheritance goes to a surviving female spouse.

The study also only measured employment outside the home. What about the self employed, small businesses etc.? Applying information about the type of people who do that will make these conclusions useless. If one earner outside the house is matched with a partner who earns inside the house, it will also make these conclusions useless.

Table 3 in the study attempts to make some concessions to things like "hours worked by spouse". It is nevertheless hard or impossible to say based on this study- who controls the earnings? An earner supporting a spouse or family at home is not neccesarily advantaged. The ability to choose to be supported rather than to earn outside the house... is an advantage that mainly goes to certain women.

It's highly questionable that there is in fact a "wage gap" that stems from sexist belief. Most often, there is only a myth spread by ideological factions based on false apples/oranges comparisons.

Warren Farrell, formerly a board member of NOW (national organization of women) has many interesting counter points about it.



Here's a thought, are "chauvinistic men" in this study single or married? Do their wives work?

My guess is the "chauvinistic" men have a wife at home who doesn't work, that most studies have shown means they'll earn more money, versus the other men who are either not married, or married with a spouse working.

My other guesses are the Chauvinistic might have a higher percentage of children (willing to let the wife stay home with the baby).

The other side is also true, perhaps the women who believe in equal pay are willing to work harder for it?

I think we have here a study that talks more about correlations than any causality. It's not to say that if tomorrow I come in and preach about how women should stay home I'm going to all of a sudden earn an extra 5k a year. It's a full mindset behind that, which is probably affecting the results. But soon enough someone will claim sexism.



What about women who believe that females should run the world and we're only keeping men around until we perfect cloning? How much do they make?


Until men can become pregnant, give birth, and nurse their young, with the same frequency as women, there will never be the type of gender equality such studies seem to lust after.

Adam S

I agree with #7. I think that more egalitarian households share responsibilities and are more likely to have two wage earner families so you don't have to quite as much for either party, but both parties probably skimp a little at work to help with kids and other family resonsibilities. But the more traditional households the man needs to make more because he is more likely to be the only wage earner. At the same time his stay at home wife is probably doing the majority of the housework and childrearing thus enabling him to work longer hours and a more demanding job. In all likelihood the more egalitarian households make more money than the traditional.


I have always felt pretty strongly that women should be paid equally well for equal work.

That is, until I met one of my colleagues. She firmly believes, that as a woman, she should never have to pay for dinner or drinks when she's on a date (and wouldn't even think of offering), and that saving for retirement is "the man's job." Oh, and she makes substantially above the median income for this country (in the area of 2.5x it).

As long as there are women around like her around there will need to be some income disparity.


This makes me curious. Most entry level jobs advertise how much they pay and stick to that without negotiation. Mid and upper level job salaries are negotiated. It makes me wonder if women just accept lower pay for equal work. Perhaps men are more aggressive when discussing compensation.

I haven't read much on the subject, does anybody know if this has been accounted for in any studies.