Sexism pays: Study finds men who hold traditional views of women earn more than men who don't

September 22, 2008,

When it comes to sex roles in society, what you think may affect what you earn. A new study has found that men who believe in traditional roles for women earn more money than men who don't, and women with more egalitarian views don't make much more than women with a more traditional outlook.

Timothy Judge, PhD, and Beth Livingston from the University of Florida, analyzed data from a nationally representative study of men and women who were interviewed four times between 1979 and 2005. A total of 12,686 people, ages 14 to 22 at the beginning of the study, participated; there was a 60 percent retention rate over the course of the study. Results were published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.

At each of the four interviews, participants were asked about their views on gender roles in the work force and at home. They answered questions such as whether they believed a woman's place is in the home, whether employing wives leads to more juvenile delinquency, if a man should be the achiever outside the home and if the woman should take care of the home and family. Participants were also asked about their earnings, religious upbringing, education, whether they worked outside the home and their marital status, in addition to other topics. Prior studies have shown that men tend to hold more traditional gender roles than do women, though this gap has narrowed over time.

The researchers looked specifically at gender role views as a predictor of a person's earnings. They controlled for job complexity, number of hours worked and education. Their analyses showed that men in the study who said they had more traditional gender role attitudes made an average of about $8,500 more annually than those who had less traditional attitudes.

"More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles. Our results prove that is, in fact, the case," Judge said. "This is happening even in today's work force where men and women are supposedly equal as far as participation."

For women, however, the situation was reversed. Women who held more traditional views about gender roles made an average of $1,500 less annually than the women with more egalitarian views. Put another way, if a married couple holds traditional gender role attitudes, the husband's earning advantage was predicted to be eight times greater than a married couple where the husband and wife have more egalitarian attitudes.

"These results show that changes in gender role attitudes have substantial effects on pay equity," Judge said. "When workers' attitudes become more traditional, women's earnings relative to men suffer greatly. When attitudes become more egalitarian, the pay gap nearly disappears."

Notably, the results also did not fundamentally change when other factors were controlled, such as industry, occupation, hours worked, and number of children. "These results cannot be explained by the fact that, in traditional couples, women are less likely to work outside the home," Judge said. "Though this plays some role in our findings, our results suggest that even if you control for time worked and labor force participation, traditional women are paid less than traditional men for comparable work."

The researchers also sought to understand why some people hold more traditional or less traditional perceptions of gender roles. Some associations they found were:

-- People living in Northeastern cities had less traditional views regarding gender roles

-- People whose parents both worked outside the home had less traditional views regarding gender roles

-- Married, religious people tended to have more traditional gender role views

-- Younger people had less traditional views but became more traditional over time

The authors offered suggestions for future research, including investigating the relationship between happiness and job attitudes among people with specific gender role views arguing that more money and happiness doesn't necessarily always go together for some people.

The researchers believe their results show that the gender pay gap is not just an economic phenomenon. "Psychology has an important role to play, too," said Judge. "Our country's policies have been leaning toward gender equality for decades now. But, according to our study, traditional gender role views continue to work against this goal."

Source: American Psychological Association

Explore further: The importance of gender in cardiovascular health

Related Stories

The importance of gender in cardiovascular health

February 20, 2018
The role of gender has been largely neglected despite playing a critical role in cardiovascular health, University of Melbourne academics have highlighted in Circulation.

What the evolution of jealousy tells us about online infidelity

February 9, 2018
It is estimated that by 2020, 2.95 billion people will be using social networks. But while sites like Facebook revolve around the wholesome concepts of friends, likes and shares, they have also become a way for people to ...

Why heart disease is often missed in women—the myth of the 'widowmaker'

February 6, 2018
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women throughout the world. Approximately seven times more women will die from heart disease than breast cancer. Even in women with breast cancer, dying from heart disease is ...

How to prevent abuse in teenage relationships

February 9, 2018
The UK has made some positive shifts in legislating against intimate partner violence among adults in recent years. However, physical, psychological and sexual violence in teenage relationships is still a very real problem.

Aging immune system may explain age-related cancer risk increase

February 5, 2018
Study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests aging immune system plays a larger role in cancer incidence than previously thought. Findings may explain higher likelihood of men developing cancer ...

What are chronophilias?

January 26, 2018
Mr. Smith was a 27-year-old man referred for psychological treatment after sexually offending against a 13-year-old boy. He initially denied the charge, but eventually admitted to sexually abusing multiple youth. He later ...

Recommended for you

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

February 23, 2018
Children as young as seven apply basic laws of physics to problem-solving, rather than learning from what has previously been rewarded, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

Study: Tinder loving cheaters—dating app facilitates infidelity

February 23, 2018
The popular dating app Tinder is all about helping people form new relationships. But for many college-aged people, it's also helping those in relationships cheat on their romantic partners.

Looking for the origins of schizophrenia

February 23, 2018
Schizophrenia may be related to neurodevelopmental changes, including brain's inability to generate an appropriate vascular system, according to new study resulted from a partnership between the D"Or Institute for Research ...

Color of judo uniform has no effect on winning

February 22, 2018
New research on competitive judo data finds a winning bias for the athlete who is first called, regardless of the colour of their uniform. This unique study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, puts to rest the debate on ...

Antidepressants are more effective than placebo at treating acute depression in adults, concludes study

February 22, 2018
Meta-analysis of 522 trials includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

Infants are able to learn abstract rules visually

February 22, 2018
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent Northwestern University study published in PLOS One.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bonkers
4 / 5 (2) Sep 22, 2008
I'd be interested to see what the difference is in household income, presuming that this is something most people would want to maximise. But i guess you can't beat two salaries. many couples have one breadwinner and this is increasingly the woman, how do these "reversed traditional" couples fare?
the huge missing factor in all of this is children, salary does not compensate a child for the stress of many carers, especially when little they need a parent there 100%. how does one factor in the child-rearing reward against the salary reward?
superhuman
not rated yet Sep 22, 2008
Men earning enough to easily support the whole family are more likely to want their wives to stay at home and care for children. Those who don't earn enough understandably are more willing to accept their wives working.

As for women those who prefer being a housewife and want to focus on caring for children are less motivated to climb the career ladder and so they end up earning less.
Mauricio
not rated yet Sep 22, 2008
Men with high testosterone levels are more likely to be entrepreneurs, and very likely to earn more. They should test the relationship to physiological level, it would sound less like a decision based process and more like a consequence of people's physiology. It would agree with other studies, such as taller men earn more, etc.
COCO
not rated yet Sep 23, 2008
What is missing here is a control group - i.e. eunuchs.
biohead
not rated yet Sep 25, 2008
These psych studies are becoming more and more like nonsense.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.