Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Real-Life 'Mad Men' Make More Money

Mad Men, a show about 1960s advertising agency and all the icky gender roles from back then, won the top award at the Emmys this year, and a new study from the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that regressive gender attitudes pay off in real life. The study, released this week, shows that women and men with “traditional” attitudes about gender roles have a pay gap that is 10 times greater than men and women with egalitarian attitudes about gender roles.

Men with attitudes suggesting that men and women should have distinct roles in society–that there are some professions that women just shouldn’t do–tend to make $11,930 more than other men who had more egalitarian attitudes about gender roles and $14,404 more than women with regressive attitudes. The study followed a group of 12,000 people starting who were just starting in their careers in 1979 and who are now middle-aged. One of the authors of the study was astonished, saying that the pay gap based on attitudes persisted across all professions.

The thing that struck me about this study was that women with more egalitarian attitudes made more while men with more egalitarian attitudes made less than their counterparts who believed in distinct gender roles. This may lead many to think of pay as a zero-sum game. But this is still about attitudes. Men who believe they should be the primary earners also believe that they deserve to make more money. It’s the same with women who believe in egalitarian gender roles. In part making more money is about asking for more. So that way, if the scale is already tipped in your favor, as it is for men (even controlling for all factors, women still make about 77 cents for every dollar men make), and you believe you deserve to make more based on the virtue of your sex, then you end up cashing out with more.

Cross posted at Pushback.

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