Sexism = success, according to US scientists

Men who display the chauvinism of David Brent in the office are better paid than modern thinkers

Tuesday 23 September 2008 00:00 BST
(Adrian Rogers)

So there is hope for chauvinist men after all. Scientists in America have discovered that sexist men who believe a woman's place is in the kitchen consistently earn more than "modern-thinking" men. This amounts to an extra $8,500 (£4,722) in annual salaries, according to the researchers.

Conversely, women who hold stronger feminist views earn more, on average, than those who have a more traditional outlook on what a woman's role should be, the scientists found, with a difference in salaries of $1,500.

Researchers from Florida interviewed 12,686 men and women in 1979 and then three times over the following decades, the last time in 2005. When first interviewed the respondents were aged between 14 and 22. The researchers asked the interviewees whether they believed a woman's place was in the home; whether the employment of women was likely to lead to higher rates of juvenile delinquency and whether a woman should take care of her family.

Far more men answered affirmatively to all three questions, although the gap between the answers of men and women drastically reduced over the period of the survey. But when the men were asked about their salaries in 2005, another gap emerged. Those holding more "traditional" – or, some would say, chauvinist – views earned significantly more.

The research was published in the latest edition of the US Journal of Applied Psychology.

Researchers say that the extra money earned by sexist men came even after other factors such as education, the complexity of the job and the number of hours a person works were considered. They also discovered that couples where both spouses tended to view the ideal place for a woman as the home had a significant earnings advantage over those who disagreed.

Timothy Judge, from the University of Florida, one of the authors of the study, said: "These results cannot be explained by the fact that, in traditional couples, women are less likely to work outside the home. Though this plays some role in our findings, our results suggest that even if you control for time worked and labour force participation, traditional women are paid less than traditional men for comparable work."

Dr Judge, who carried out the work with his colleague Beth Livingston, said the findings may be explained by the fact that sexist men have historically earned more, and now have a vested interest in keeping things that way. "More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles," he said. "Our results prove that is, in fact, the case. This is happening in today's workforce where men and women are supposedly equal as far as participation."

The study also found that people whose parents had both worked outside the home tended to have less traditional views on gender roles and that married couples and men and women who were religious tended to have more traditional views on the priorities of each gender. Last week the Conservative Party estimated that it will be 187 years before British women are given equal pay to men.

Magdalena Zawisz, a psychologist at Winchester University, said the discrepancies in earnings could be explained by several factors. "It could be that more traditionally minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources – money in this case – and also in terms of a woman who is submissive," she said. "Another theory suggests that employers are likely to promote men who are the sole earner in preference to those who are not – they recognise that they need more support for their families because they are the breadwinner."


The difference between what sexist men earn and what their more enlightened counterparts are paid.

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