Why do women make less money than men? One theory has been that it’s because they pursue careers that will allow them to opt out of the workforce for a few years to raise children, or else combine work and parenting by adopting a more flexible schedule. There’s just one problem: a recent study found that women’s jobs are less flexible, more poorly paid, and yes, more stressful than men’s.
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The study examined survey data on 8,500 men and 9,000 women in 27 different industrialized nations including the US, Taiwan, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, Bulgaria, and Australia. Researchers Professor Haya Stier, of Tel Aviv University, and Professor Meir Yaish, University of Haifa asked participants to answer questions on their working lives, including their degree of autonomy, opportunities for promotion, income, and stress levels.
The results, published in a paper in the journal Work, Employment, and Society, were revealing:
- Men were 15 percent more likely to determine their working hours and time off.
- Asked about income and opportunities for promotion, men gave answers that were 8 percent higher than women.
- Men were 5 percent less stressed than women
- Men were also more likely to find their work interesting (2 percent)
The only areas in which men’s answers were less favorable than women’s were in job security (2 percent lower) and degree of danger and physical effort (8 percent higher).
In short, according to these results, women do not gain flexibility from their lower-paying work. This aligns with PayScale’s report on the gender wage gap, which did not find that women earned less because they looked for more flexible jobs. Instead, it found that women were more likely to train for professions that gave back to the world, instead of their wallets.
“Women earn less than men on average because they often fill jobs with a large societal benefit, but small monetary benefit,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. “Instead of focusing the debate on the misbegotten gender wage gap, we should instead examine why women are absent from high-paying jobs and industries, like technology, engineering and executive positions.”
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