Society as a whole seems to value men in the workplace who hold more traditional views about being the family breadwinner.
That is the finding of a study being reported today.
Men with a more egalitarian attitude about the role of women in society, tended to earn significantly less on average than men who believe a woman’s job is in the home taking care of his children.
This study out of the University of Florida looked at data collected from the Labor Department’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. They began tracking more than 12,000 people in 1979 when they were ages 14 through 22. They are now 43 to 51 years old.
Beth Livingston, who co-authored the study, said she was taken aback by the results.
"We actually thought maybe men with traditional attitudes work in more complex jobs that pay more or select higher-paying occupations," she said. "Regardless of the jobs people chose, or how long they worked at them, there was still a significant effect of gender role attitudes on income."
The differences were substantial.
Traditional men earned nearly $12,000 more a year than men with egalitarian views and more than $14,000 more than women who shared their traditional attitudes. Women with a traditional outlook earned the least.
The gap between men and women who share a more egalitarian view was ten times smaller than the traditional group.
The comparisons were between people who not only worked the same kinds of jobs but with the same educational level.
It is the first time social scientists have looked at whether men too may be victims of gender biases. It raises the question as to whether the “gender-gap” disparity in salaries is really a bias between traditional versus more modern ideas about an expanded woman’s role.
It’s typically assumed that the disparity is the result of career choices that men and women choose or the different hours they work. High paying jobs for traditional men include the legal or medical or business professions. For women, education and social work tend to reflect the lower-paying professions.
"Some would say, 'Of course traditional men earn more than traditional women -- they are both fulfilling their desires to play different roles in the home and workplace,' " said Timothy Judge, co-author. "Our results do not support that view. If you were a traditional-minded woman, would you say, 'I am fine working the same hours as a traditional-minded man in the same industry with the same education but earning substantially less'? I don't think traditional-minded women would say that."
Livingston and Judge, both organizational psychologists, say it’s possible that traditional men might negotiate harder for better salaries or that employers discriminate against women and men who do not subscribe to traditional gender roles.
The results appear in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology but were not designed to analyze how these differences came about or who is happiest.
It’s predicted that the wage gap may recede as more Americans hold an egalitarian view of gender.
“Traditional values do not have to be traditional gender role values,” Judge added. #