News Day Tuesday: Sexist Men Earn More

George Marks / Retrofile / Getty
(photo: George Marks / Retrofile / Getty)

That headline pretty much sums up the findings of a study detailed by this article. But hold on! Before we start throwing sharp objects at the injustice of it all, let’s discuss what the findings of this study could possibly mean. Besides, violence is not the answer. That, and sharp objects cost money. The really good sharp objects anyway. Not that I would know anything about that. Umm…moving on!

Okay, so the researchers didn’t actually use the word “sexist” in their 19-page report. That’s just me and calling it like it is. Hehe. Anyway, the researchers used the terms “traditional” and “egalitarian” to describe how much people agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

  1. A woman’s place is in the home, not the office or shop.
  2. A wife with a family has no time for outside employment.
  3. Employment of wives leads to more juvenile delinquency.
  4. It is much better if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.
  5. Women are much happier if they stay home and take care of children.

What the researchers found was that the more traditional men’s attitudes became (i.e., the more they agreed with the above 5 statements), the more money they made. However, the reverse was true for women – the more traditional their attitudes, the lower their incomes. Exactly how much more coin are traditional men making? $8,548. If you only count the men who worked outside the home, the difference increases to $11,930. (You can click on the figure below for a bigger picture.)

(figures from: Journal of Applied Psychology: Is the Gap More Than Gender?, Timothy A. Judge and Beth A. Livingston)

So what’s the deal here? Why does sexism pay for men? The researchers propose that maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – that if a man feels it is his duty to financially support his family, then maybe he will work harder or negotiate more aggressively for a higher salary. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Neither? Can you think of any other explanations?

The researchers state: “Parents, educators, employers, and media reinforce social norms and mores; given the results observed here, these groups should carefully attend to the values and attitudes that are communicated through messages, policies, and behavior…Collectively, institutions that socialize children to accept traditional gender role orientations may be sowing the seeds of gender economic inequality.”

Which “messages, policies, and behavior” do you think they’re referring to? What can you do – what can WE do – to change things?


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22 Responses to “News Day Tuesday: Sexist Men Earn More”

  1. Hammad Says:

    According to Wikipedia:

    Sexism is the belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to or less valuable than the other and can also refer to a hatred or distrust towards either sex as a whole (see also misogyny and misandry), or creating stereotypes of masculinity for men or femininity for women.

    I don’t have time to read the whole report right now, which I will do later, but I don’t necessarily disagree with what I think are some of the conclusions that you have outlined, although I think they could have been worded differently to appear less “sexist”. For example, I would rather have my wife raise the kids than some babysitter who obviously will not inculcate as much love and affection as a parent would because of the inherent natural inclination that exists between a mother and child. That doesn’t mean I think a woman should stay at home and can’t have a career, and it certainly doesn’t make me sexist. It just means I would put family first over money.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I agree with the researchers propose that maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy – that if a man feels it is his duty to financially support his family, then maybe he will work harder or negotiate more aggressively for a higher salary.

    I don’t agree with the statements 1 thru 5.

    Your graph is really hard to read.

  3. Anon Says:

    When I first glanced at the title, I misread it and thought it said something about: the sexiest men earn more money. But that’s a totally different theory, haha. Sorry for being facetious (spelling?) about a serious topic. Although I think I read somewhere that generally speaking, taller men earn more and/or get treated better than their shorter counterparts. Alright, enough for being off the point of your article.

  4. Allie Says:

    @Kathy- Lol, The whole sharp objects thing at the beginning was priceless. Though I have to disagree with you about them costing more money, for some reason whenever I go to garage sales, I see people selling swords for like 5 dollars. Not too shabby.
    Anywho, about the article, I think it will be hard to break free of the gender roles that have been built up over the years. In one of my classes we’ve been talking about an idea that James Morone presents, the “Us” vs. the “Them”. (which I realize doesn’t make much sense, but hang on I’ll explain) The “Us” refers to the people who are in power, and have been in power for a really long period of time, in this case, Men. And the “Them” refers to the outsider, the other, (Women). So Men have generally held the power, and this article is just a distant echo of a battle that has been going on for centuries. The “them” wishes to have the freedom that they see of the “us” but the “Us” wishes to maintain power, and has a need to keep the “them” in their place. Take the Puritan society of early American. When women started to hold religious meetings in their homes (ie: Anne Hutchinson) the men freaked out, and this was in essential the start of what we know as the Salem Witch Trials. The men saw the women trying to break free of their historical roles, and so what did they do? They started to persecute the women, in an effort to put them back in their place.
    Now I’m not dissing guys here, far from it, because even among guys, there is an “us” and a “them”. In any group this is true. So I’m merely trying to point out social norms here.
    Anywho, as to what we’re supposed to do about this. I’m not really sure. Change is always hard, and it never comes overnight, and in the end the “us” and the “them” remain, even if they’re reversed. So yeah, I’m not sure how we can change things, but I think that anything is possible. And even from 200 years ago, things are incredibly different, so I have an immense amount of hope for the world, and for us to be able to break the social norms! (Lol… yeah, so I don’t really know if anything I said made any sense, it did in my head, but there it is!)

    @Anon- I’ve read that about Tall men as well! (I’ve also heard that Tall women on average earn more money than shorter women.) So crazy. I’ve heard a few theories on why this is, ie: that a tall person tends to be more imposing when walking into a board room/meeting and their height is seen as self absurdness/confidence. Though I don’t know how much I subscribe to this, because I’m tall myself and I really don’t drip confidence. In fact I would say that I’m really pretty shy and generally very awkward.

  5. Emily Says:

    Out of curiosity… has anyone read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? Because it ties in perfectly with this article. It’s sort of 1984-ish; set in the future, society is headed by a single group of people who want power just for the heck of it, follows someone in an underground movement, etc. In the novel, men overthrew the government and seized power for themselves. All women were “let go” from their jobs and were no longer allowed to hold property or access their bank accounts. The narrator becomes a Handmaid, which are women used strictly for their viable ovaries, pretty much. All of the Commanders, who lead the society, are normally old, and their Wives can no longer reproduce – hence the Handmaids, to produce heirs. Anyways. the society in this novel is VERY traditional – women aren’t even allowed to read. Great book, but the society is completely screwed up. They twist Scripture to suit their needs… though the Bible can be interpreted many ways, the men went a little overboard. I personally think EVERYONE is equal – men, women, blacks, whites, everyone. I also go to an extremely diverse school. I just don’t understand racism, or gender discrimination, to get back on topic. Discrimination is not that big of a problem today as, say, the economy, what with gas prices as of late. So why are all the politicians obsessing over it?

  6. Allie Says:

    @ Emily- Yeah I’ve read it! GREAT book. It totally ran through my head when I read this article. Atwood is brilliant at intertwining social commentary in her books!

  7. Jennifer Says:

    “Discrimination is not that big of a problem today as, say, the economy, what with gas prices as of late. So why are all the politicians obsessing over it?”

    A. Gas prices are decreasing at a pretty alarming rate, at least where I live, which says a great deal since gas prices are usually the highest in my region.

    B. The economy is something that can eventually, with some time, patience, cooperation, and abandoning of avarice, be salvaged. Discrimination, on the other hand, is still as evident today as ever, as is made very clear by this study, and a plethora of other examples that don’t need to be proven by a study. I think discrimination, next to other issues like the economy, is at the forefront of this election because 3 out of the 4 candidates are targets of discrimination: McCain because he’s old, Obama because he’s black, and Palin because she’s a woman Not to mention the flack both Palin and Obama get because they’re “inexperienced” which is just another word to disguise the fact that some people think they’re too young to run the country.

    But anyway, I have read The Handmaid’s Tale- it was given to me by a friend and I loved it. Margaret Atwood has to be the greatest literary figure Canada has ever exported. Reading the article immediately brought the book to mind along with the fact that as far as women have come, we’re still so far away from where we wish to be. It’s frightening and frustrating, but we can work at it and knock those traditionalists off their high horses.


  8. Ashley Says:

    Sexism is something that definitely destroys the relationships between women and men. It seems that men can get higher in the money pole than women because they may be more skilled. I disagree because as women we are stronger, we may not be as skilled but we in the end given the time we can preserve and be so much more than ever expected. And personally sexism is just another way for men to take control and push us down a bit from succeeding.

    They were merely talking about parents and educators should learn from the views of what goes on in a child’s or student’s life and how they see it or how they deal with things. We as smart intelligent women can better ourselves by showing the world there’s more to women than being housewives and mothers.

  9. taylor nikole Says:

    call me crazy… but seeing the blog, i had to view both sides…
    any thoughts on this article?

    its kinda funny though, sure we have rights to complain… but we don’t see them complaining…
    maybe its male ego?
    they seem to express their opinions in forms of rude, crude jokes about women?
    am i right?
    Since we don’t seem to get mens opinions on this reverse sexism…

  10. G Says:

    Good to know some places are still stuck in the 1950s…

    Ya know what I think it is? I think the guys and by guys, I mean actual men, that are high up on the corporate food chain are more likely to be sexist, because they’re in a position of power yada, yada. These men promote other MEN that share the same kinds of ideals as they do and BAM, the men that score higher on the sexism scale start making more money. Then we have the women, they have two choices if they choose to have a career. Either have kids and end up taking time off, thereby your career suffers and you fall behind, or have no kids and be a shark at whatever it is you do. The feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s made tons of progress, but there is still a ways to go when it comes to the work-force.

  11. Emma-Lu Says:

    @Taylor Nikole – thanks for the link! It’s so true how those examples of subtle discrimination lead to resentment on both sides. And it’s usually indirect, as you said, like being crude or making rude jokes.

    @Allie – so true! We’ve made huge progress in the last 200 years – come a long way! So it might take another 200 years to make even more progress and for an actual mind-shift to happen between the 2 sexes.

    Great debate Kathy! it is so important to reflect and discuss these things.

  12. Gina Says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems blatantly sexist to me. I agree with what G said about the high corporate business men hiring OTHER men.

    I’d like to hear a very good reason why women can’t earn the same as men. Some women take the same jobs as men and have a higher intelligence STILL don’t get paid as much.

    What about the women who take on those dangerous jobs? Why do they earn less than men? How does that make us equal?

  13. Emily Says:

    At Jennifer: I can see where you’re coming from. Which is someplace different from me. Like I said, I come from a very diverse school, and have gotten used to a laid-back environment concerning race. I personally – as in it’s my opinion – don’t think discrimination is that big of a problem, or should be. I think everyone needs to stop looking at the presidential race as an old man, a black man, and a woman running. Instead, look at their platforms, Democratic vs. Republican. The fact is, women today are higher up than they used to be. And there will always be traditionalist men that don’t want us there. But boys will be boys – you can’t convince everyone. It’s impossible. Though this study shows that traditionalist men earn more, it’s just another study, done on one group of people. I think we should all just work to fulfill our dreams, despite obstacles in our way.
    And about gas prices – I know they’ve dropped recently. But surely prices can’t drop this drastically in a matter of weeks without some hit to the economy.

  14. skahahoo Says:

    @ Hammad – I agree that the statements are sexist, but I think that was intentional. The researchers needed a way to measure how “traditional” an individual’s attitude was, and they figured that the best way was to come up with a bunch of sexist statements and see how much an individual agrees or disagrees with those statements. If they toned down the sexist nature of the statements, then it would have been difficult for them to gauge the people’s attitudes. Definitely give the report a read if you can. Looking forward to your take on it! 🙂

    I also agree that babysitters and nannies aren’t the ideal option, although I have to say there are some caretakers out there who do a better job than the parents themselves. I had an awesome nanny growing up. I miss her. *sigh* But my parents are awesome too. Just too much goodness all around on my end. 🙂

    In any case, I thought your comment was interesting because I’ve been discussing this study with a bunch of people, and many of them echo your sentiment – that they would prefer it if the mother stayed home to take care of the children. What I thought was so interesting was how only a couple people mentioned the preference for a parent to stay home, as opposed to the mother specifically. I don’t know if this is a specific reaction to the statements themselves, which use the word “woman” or “women,” but in my opinion, in a truly egalitarian society, it shouldn’t matter which parent stays home, as long as he or she is loving and competent. This ties in with what taylor nikole was saying, about the reverse sexism against men. Personally, I hope the stigma against stay-at-home dads disappears soon.

    @ Anon – “sexiest”…hehe. I have also heard that – about the advantage taller people have. I feel like there’s a study out there about this too, not just with height, but looks as well. My sister taught a class in which all of the students worked for one of the big investment firms in NY (I forget which one). Anyway, she told me how it was weird all of the students were good-looking…like not exaggerating, they were all attractive, the men and the women. Makes you think huh?

    @ Allie – $5 swords?? What the heck kinda garage sales do you go to? Remind me to never get you mad. Hehe. 😉

    @ taylor nikole – I think we don’t hear too much about reverse sexism against men for a couple reasons. One, I think numbers-wise, this group isn’t big enough yet to cause much of a ruckus. I know lots and lots of mothers who work, and I know lots and lots of moms who stay at home. On the flipside, I know lots and lots of fathers who work, but very few, if any, dads who stay at home. Which is unfortunate. I think there are a lot of fathers who would love to stay at home and take care of the kids and the household instead of going to a 9-to-5 job. Two, I think a lot of men would feel awkward about bringing up the issue in the first place. They would be complaining from a position of power. That doesn’t mean they’re not justified in their complaints. Personally, I feel like if I hit a guy, then that guy has every right to hit me back. I don’t go for that special treatment stuff. Especially the women and children first thing. I think children should be protected, absolutely. But women first? The mothers sure, but only if fathers also get the same kind of consideration.

    @ Emily – Hear, hear! Wouldn’t it be awesome if one day, we all look at each other as individuals instead of a label? One day. I think maintaining diversity is SO important, especially in schools. I think that’s one of the main ways that we’ll eventually be able to overcome all these “-isms” that get in the way of meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, I think the labels, especially race, continues to play a role in our society and in the current elections. There’s even a name for the negative effect a black candidate suffers – the Bradley effect. Basically, in pretty much every U.S. election in which there was a black candidate, and the polls indicated that he was in the lead, on the actual election day, the black candidate either lost or won by a significantly smaller margin than was predicted. That’s why there are a bunch of people worrying whether Obama will win or not, because he isn’t ahead enough in the polls to overcome the Bradley effect, if the Bradley effect comes into play again in this election. Sad huh?

    @ everyone who read The Handmaid’s Tale – Y’all really like this book huh? I haven’t read it, but my friend did, and she really liked it as well. I’ll put it on my booklist. 🙂

  15. Hammad Says:

    I want to say one last thing about this topic. As long as you women compare yourselves to men, you are setting the standard as men. Now, this doesn’t mean that comparing yourselves to men is out of the question when something seems out of place. For example, it is blatant sexism if females make less than men even though they have the same qualifications. Men and women are intellectually and spiritually equal, and I am sure there are plenty of women out there who are smarter than I am. But, men and women are different too, and each sex is better suited for certain roles. In general, women are always going to be better at raising and nurturing a child. Likewise, women most likely will also be better nurses and caregivers. Also, in general, men are physically superior to women, and so are more apt for physical labor. It doesn’t mean they aren’t equal. It’s just the nature of things. I think the feminist movement was an extreme reaction to the injustice imposed by some men on women in almost ever sphere, but it had a tendency to focus too much on equality when it came to women as opposed to equity.

    I think too much emphasis is placed in modern day society of “equalizing” things that weren’t meant to be equal. Yes, there are men out there who are sexist, who use the physical disadvantages that women have with respect to men because of the nature of their bodies as a way to impose their own self-defined inferiority complex on them. But, I think (non-sexist) men and women need to think about what is best for women (and women ought to know this better than men), focusing on an inherent sense of justice, instead of focusing on equalizing everything, so that it results in antagonism to what is considered “traditional” roles. Not all things are bad in tradition, people did have brains before us, there was a reason for the way certain things were set up, and believe it or not, chivalry did once exist.

  16. skahahoo Says:

    @ Hammad – I can only speak for myself, but for me, as a woman, the issue isn’t whether or not I can do everything a man can do, or striving to meet standards set by men. The issue is whether or not the treatment I face is different or the freedom I have is restricted simply on the basis of gender. And this cuts both ways. Men face sexism too, no doubt.

    I’m sure that all of us have faced some kind of stereotype or generalization to which we didn’t conform. But even when the generalizations are meant to highlight a positive quality (Asians are good at math, women are better caregivers, etc.), they still set up this type of scaffolding that limits, or at least guides the thinking of people in such a way that makes it harder for the nonconformists to make their own way or feel good about themselves.

    Specifically regarding sexism and tradition, there is definitely a sense, at least in the competitive American culture I grew up in, that success is equated with a career. To say that you’re a stay-at-home mom, or a homemaker, or whatever term you’d like to use…I’ve met women who say this with a slight bit of embarrassment, or at least try to “cover up” for it by describing the work they used to do or plan to go back to once their children are grown. And I think this is a terrible shame. Parenting and teaching should be given the highest honor and respect, but for whatever reason, they are not. People give it lip service, but in practice, they don’t back it up. So in my opinion, if women strive for success outside the home, I think it is partly because they haven’t been given the respect they deserve in inside the home.

    In any case, I think that’s besides the point. I think nowadays, we should know better and treat people as individuals…not restrict their hopes and aspirations because of some preconceived notion we have based on the “group” they belong to. If a woman firefighter can haul my butt out of a burning building, then more power to her! And if a man can cook, clean, and take care of the kids, then give me his number! 😉

  17. Hammad Says:


    I guess I have to say one more thing. Look, I’m not a black and white type of guy. When I was speaking of roles, I was speaking in terms of generalities. I am all for exceptions, and like you said, I don’t think the generalities should prevent people from allowing the former. If the woman makes more money than the man, and the latter can raise the kids while she’s working, and they discuss it and agree with the situation, you won’t see me arguing against it. I pretty much agree with everything you said.

    However, the only thing I am pointing out is this inferiority complex that is seemingly attached to the sexes (and it occurs on both sides) when one, in general, can do things better than the other. We are different in certain ways and it’s not a bad thing. Otherwise, I think God would have made us all a single sex. Where we aren’t different is in intellectual capacity, and what I believe is spiritual growth, and to me, those are the most important qualities that make us human beings. The fact of the matter is, there are certain things that men are better at than women, and vice-a-versa. If you put 11 of the best male football players against 11 of the best female football players, the former is going to destroy the latter. No, ifs, ands or buts, and I think it’s rather asinine to argue this point. Similarly, if you put ten women in a room with 100 babies, they are going to know how to handle them better than ten men, in general. Does that make one less than the other? No. It just means we’re different.

    Anyways, I think I’m spending too much time on a site whose demographic is well outside of my age range, and not of the same sex as me, for slightly impure motives (I like the actress who started this site), although I certainly believe in what I have said. So, that’s all I really wanted to say. Peace.

  18. skahahoo Says:

    @ Hammad – lol…I hear ya about the football challenge.  I love my fellow women, but you won’t see me stepping out on that field.  😀  And don’t feel hesistant about posting Hammad.  I always enjoy reading your comments…you bring a different perspective, which is always nice.  Besides, it’s all love here on the GBD.
    And what’s this about an actress starting this site?  Kendra, Tabby…do you guys act?  I’m pretty sure it’s not Kristin…what with this site, and her advocacy work for people with short hair and dogs with scrunched-up faces…I don’t know where she would find the time.  😉

  19. Emma-Lu Says:

    hehe Skahahoo!
    I agree though. Hammad please keep posting on the site! Your comments are thought provoking and challenging, makes for interesting debate.
    later 🙂

  20. Stephen K Says:

    I don’t really see any sexism here. The husband and wife are in agreed upon roles (no coercion). The workplace is responding to a motivated employee with more pay. What is the alternative, to force people to put their children in day care at 6 months and force women to work.

    Some people believe that along with the right to have a child comes a responsibility to raise the child in the best way possible. With a stay at home parent.

    The current mainstream model is to give birth, then as soon as possible dump the kid off with a care provider and return to your previous life. The child eventually ending up in the school system.

    This means at a very early age you are severing the maternal bond/maternal urge. Not good for the child. Then you are putting him/her into a group of kids that are at the same level of ignorance. They rely on the group for information and the group is ignorant. What comes out of it is a pack or group think mentality.

    The first 6 years of a child’s development is critical. Critical thinking and reasoning skills etc. are developing. The best way for the child to learn and develop is from one on one interaction with a trusted adult. An adult the child is closely bonded to.

    There is a paternal bond/paternal urge a man feels that is is a very strong motivator. We want to provide the best we can for our family. It has been a primary driving force for increasing productivity. Nurture, provide and protect. Like I said it is a potent motivator.
    Steve K

  21. skahahoo Says:

    Hey Stephen K!

    Thanks for participating in the discussion! 🙂

    The article isn’t saying that it is sexist for the man to financially support the family and the woman to take care of the home. As you said, as long as there’s no coercion, and both partners willingly agree to do their part to make things work, there’s no problem. Having one parent work outside the home and one parent work inside the home is not sexist in itself. What IS sexist, however, is the view that the man SHOULD be the one responsible for financially supporting the family, and that the woman SHOULD be the one to take care of the home. These kinds of statements set roles solely on the basis of gender, leave no room for dialogue, and restrict an individual’s freedom to come to a different kind of arrangement that would work just as well.

    I agree with you that ideally, a parent should be there to take care of the child during the early years, provided that the parent is loving and competent. I have no problem with the woman staying at home if that’s what she wants to do. And in fact, many women do want to stay at home to take care of their kids. Similarly, as you noted, there are many men who relish their role as the breadwinner of the family. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what if there’s a couple in which the mother would prefer to work and the father would prefer to stay at home? Wouldn’t everybody be happier then if they were allowed to go with that arrangement without having to suffer lower pay (for the woman) and confused looks (for the dad, since stay-at-home dads aren’t that common)?

    What the study is saying is that all other things being equal (level of education, number of hours worked, job complexity, age, etc.), men who believe, for example, that women should stay at home made more money than men who believe that either parent can stay at home. I mean, how would most of us feel if the study had found that the more racist a person is, the more he or she gets paid? If that doesn’t sit well with us, why should it be any different if sexist men get paid more? That doesn’t mean that men are being directly rewarded for holding sexist views. But, to me at least, it doesn’t make the results of the study any less disturbing. I hope future studies uncover the reasons behind this trend so that we can work towards creating a society in which narrow-mindedness doesn’t correlate with higher pay. Unless someone out there can think of a good reason why having such a trend would serve us better in the long run. Anyone?

  22. Stephen K Says:

    If the market continues to reward superior performance with better pay we will all be better off in the long run.

    What you would do to ‘solve’ this. Thought police, motivation patrols? How would you determine the “mindedness” of the individual. Who would select the pay scale. (scary even in the short run)

    Retaining our freedom to choose is also better for society in the long run.

    Traditional couples had a fun range of choices to pick from when they defined their relationship. You can use social coercion and label them narrow-minded. Or maybe institute an additional income tax on traditional couples. But both use force to limit freedom of choice.
    Steve K

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