Why Men Earn More the bookFifty years ago it was clear why men earned more. There were a lot more men with higher education than women, and there were a lot more men in the workforce, gaining experience, climbing the ladder. Today the gap is not nearly as wide. Many suggest the gap still exists because there is a bias towards giving men higher paying positions. And there probably is, but maybe not for the reasons we assume.

Here’s a book that gives a different answer to that question. It’s called Why Men Earn More and it’s written by Warren Farrell. Here’s a quote from the publisher:

Controversial and exhaustively researched, gender expert Warren Farrell’s latest book Why Men Earn More takes as its stunning argument the idea that bias-based unequal pay for women is largely a myth, and that women are most often paid less than men not because they are discriminated against, but because they have made lifestyle choices that affect their ability to earn.

Both men and women make trade-offs that affect how much they earn. According to the book, these trade offs include:

  • putting in more hours at work,
  • taking riskier jobs or more hazardous assignments
  • being willing to change location
  • training for technical jobs that involve less people contact
  • deciding to drop out of the workforce to raise children

This last point I think is particularly significant. When women take years off from their careers to raise their children (much more time than a standard maternity leave) they essentially drop out of the workforce and miss all those opportunities their male coworkers gain by staying in their jobs and gaining more experience. General statistics will include the salaries of these women which will weigh down the average salary women make.

Here’s another interesting example from the book: Female librarians earn less than garbagemen, not because of discrimination, but because so many applicants compete for the safe, clean, comfortable, convenient, fulfilling jobs women prefer. Garbargemen and other such workers make more because employers have a harder time finding and keeping people willing to do these jobs and therefore must offer higher salaries to do so.

Still, statistics show that women and men with equal experience and qualifications, doing the same job, for the same hours, under the same conditions, get paid the same. In response, Farrell suggests women take jobs in high-paying, male-dominated fields that are becoming female friendly and suggests that ambitious women marry stay-at-home husbands.

I would think it would be difficult for a woman to find such a man. I am sure some exist and it’s a valid and worthy life for a man, but men are often measured by their salaries, which means few men are comfortable choosing a stay-at-home life.

Here’s another interesting question Ferrell poses: If men are paid more than women for the same work, why would anyone ever hire a man? Looking at it this way, some women may have at least this one advantage. It may be easier for some women to find jobs because they can be hired for less. Although, I can see how that might not be a such a rewarding advantage to have.