Attitudes About Tradional Gender Rolls Lead to Less Pay For Women

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According to a large study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, traditional thinking about gender roles leads to less pay for women and even greater pay for the "traditional" thinking men compared to their more modern counterparts. Although women have been making strides over the past few decades for "equal pay for equal work", this study shows that when men and women view the ideal place for a woman as the home, they had a significant earning advantage over those who disagreed.

Even in today's workforce, where women are supposed to be equal, the idea of a separation of work and domestic roles works against the woman's earning capacity. The researchers showed that traditional views about a woman's role (homemaker, cooking and raising the kids) led to men earning an average of $8,500 more than men who believed women should be equal in the workplace. Working women who held "traditional" views made an average of $1,500 less annually than the women with the more egalitarian views. The study controlled for job complexity, numbers of hours worked, initial earnings and education level.

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So what is going on here? It would appear that working women with a view that "a woman's place is in the home" might accept lower earnings and settle for less. They may put their own economic interests behind women who believe they are worth more in the work place.

The men with "traditional views" who earned more compared to their peers were mainly in blue collar jobs. Perhaps these jobs reward men with dominant masculine views and they benefit in receiving a higher salary.

The gender gap is still with us and women in the same job earn just 80% of men. This study shows that a person's belief affects their wages along with economic and societal forces. Since we live in a world where dual incomes are often needed to survive, there is no place for paying women less because of a belief they should be home cooking.

Toni Brayer, MD

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