For a long time, women have struggled to gain equal pay for equal work. Most people are well aware of the gender pay gap, and it seems strange that nothing has been done to solidly address the problem. While women currently make roughly 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and politicians rally to raise awareness of the issue, a new report puts forth a startling revelation to explain part of the issue. Is it possible that women tend to have an aversion to competition and this trend towards less aggressive jobs contributes to the gender wage gap issue?
Gender Wage Gap Study
There has been a concerted rallying cry and effort to close the 80 percent gender wage gap for years, and while there has been some progress, it’s clear that the problem still exists. The new study, released by the University of Chicago in concert with Northwestern University, posits that women tend to opt for jobs that are less aggressive, and aren’t as assertive in negotiating business as men, which helps to contribute to 10% of the gender pay gap.
The study used a metric whereby participants were asked to choose between A) a game where they could earn $4 for each answer they got right, or B) entering a competition with three others where the prize was four times greater for each correct answer but only if they won. Twice as many men chose the tournament as women. Using various metrics which took self-confidence and ability into account, they determined that about 50% of this decision was down to a desire (or lack thereof) for competition.
There are, however, other factors that seem to contribute to the issue. A Georgetown University study indicates that companies exhibit a tendency to only hire or promote women to board positions when another woman leaves. This, they claim, may cause problems with diversity among boards, which then trickles down to affect company hiring policies.
It was also determined that women were more likely than men to work in industries that pay lower on the whole, and that likelihood increased as their career went on. This factor tends to skew the overall figures somewhat. Even still, the pay gap does remain.
Opening the Discussion
The point of these studies is not to somehow justify or lay the blame for the wage gap at the feet of women, but to open and expand discussion of the societal factors in play. The end goal is, as always, to overcome the problem and see equality and increased diversity at all levels of employment.
In the end, it may come down to companies and human resources departments to simply do more to ensure that pay equity is present in corporations. It’s important to show diversity and equality in your practices.