Fizzle-out at the wage gap

Fizzle-out at the wage gap – differences in fair pay expectations

What pay is fair pay? The matter is of crucial importance to women, who earn a fraction of what men get.

A Michigan psychologist has shed some surprising light on the gender-wage gap, which has been narrowing over the past few decades, but at a snail’s pace. By 1990, women were earning a mere 68 [cents] for every dollar males were taking in–and that was up 8 [cents] over 1980.

It’s long been known that a person’s pay expectations influence both pay offers and satisfaction with salary. And indeed, finds Linda A. Jackson, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, women have lower self-pay expectations than do men. The reason, she reports, is not that they think they are worth less; they simply think everybody should be paid less.

Jackson surveyed career expectations of 250 female and 185 male college seniors majoring in male-dominated, female-dominated, or more gender-balanced occupational fields. She found that for both the time they embarked on a career and the time they expected to hit their career peak, women had lower pay expectations for themselves and for others in their field. And they believed that less pay was fair pay all around. The salary-expectation difference between men and women was $1,238 at job entry, and a hefty $18,659 at career peak.

Two other factors contributed to the difference: Women expected to take more time out for child-rearing, and men rated themselves more business-sophisticated than women.

Women, she observes, simply don’t acquire the knowledge of money that men do. Which raises the question: How do people learn about money, anyway? Jackson has just completed a survey testing general knowledge about money matters, such as how much does it cost to buy a house, what is the poverty level, etc. “Men will probably err on the high side, women on the low side,” she found.

Further, women see money as negative; men see it as status. And when it comes to behavior, women may be less willing to make sacrifices to get more money, opting instead for more family time.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group