A study by the World Economic Forum says that it could take 170 years to close the gender pay gap. This same study finds that the gap in the United States between men and women is 65%, meaning, on average, men make 65% more than women for doing the same job.
I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone that there is a gap. But having had employed hundreds of people at a time, with senior staff made up of equal parts men and women, I am personally accustomed to a model that pays according to the position and function – not according to sex. I sincerely cannot fathom working in an environment in which there is such a gap – and certainly not one in which the gap is so vast. And yet – there it is. Undeniably…criminal…is the best word I can use.
According to the study, a number of factors contribute to the gap. Things like women working longer days and limited opportunities for advancement. But what is causing those conditions?
Do Nice Guys and Gals Finish Last?
I recently sat in on a presentation by Timothy A. Judge, the Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness Director, Fisher Leadership Initiative Management and Human Resources at the Ohio State University. Judge’s presentation was entitled “Do Nice Guys and Gals Really Finish Last?”
In it, he discussed the question of “agreeableness” – how agreeable are people, how agreeable are you? In multiple studies on the subject and after taking all kinds of statistically relevant variances and factors in to consideration, time and time again the results are largely the same. While the power curve for the male population on a scale of “very agreeable” to “not agreeable” looks nearly identical to the power curve for females, the placement of these curves are dramatically different on the “X-axis”. In general, the average male is far less agreeable than the average female.
The Jerk’s In Charge
Research went on to find that positions we tend to associate with wealth and power, like CEOs and politicians, tend to be held by individuals who are less agreeable. Of course, these positions are overwhelmingly male-dominated. It further went on to show, just as the World Economic Forum findings suggest, the difference in the pay for men and women at every level is heartbreaking.
Judge’s presentation took all of this undeniable data one step further and suggests that perhaps one reason this gap is so large is that the less agreeable male is more inclined to not just accept what is offered, instead counter-offering for more. They negotiate better because they are more inclined to say, “No”.
He’s Strong – She’s a “B”
And though all of this may be true, he also suggested that the general public sees a less agreeable male as “strong” and a less agreeable female as “bitchy” – and that likely contributes even further to the disparity in pay. The studies found that attitude to be virtually equal among both men and women. In other words, both sexes are equally guilty of perpetrating this stereotype and prejudice against women.
Do We Really Have to Wait 170 Years?
There are three things that can help us end this problem more quickly than waiting it out for 170 years. One, as a society we have to accept it exists and begin to earnestly retrain our ways of thinking. Two, we need to do a much better job of teaching people how to effectively negotiate regardless of whether they are naturally agreeable or not. Three, more women need to enter the entrepreneurial world (which has been on the rise in recent years) and thus FORCE the change.
Increase the Odds
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