Friday, August 17, 2007

One of the Reasons Men Make More Money--They Work Longer Hours

I read this article today at MSN entitled "Want a Bigger Salary? Prepare for Longer Work Week":

Don’t think that Americans aren’t earning those paychecks. The MSN-Zogby poll shows a direct correlation between higher household incomes and the tendency to put in longer work weeks.

More than one in three (37 percent) workers with $100,000 or more in household income say they typically work between 41 and 50 hours per week, and an additional 17 percent say they usually work more than 50 hours per week. Once household incomes reach less than $25,000, the tendency to work longer weeks decreases significantly: Only 8 percent of workers in this group work between 41 and 50 hours per week and just 2 percent work over 50 hours.

Among those clocking more office hours, the majority are men and workers with children living at home. Sixteen percent of men claim to work more than 50 hours per week, but only half of that amount of women is likely to do the same. Finally, 17 percent of workers with children aged 17 and younger living at home are likely to put in a longer work week, but only 11 percent of those without kids have the same tendency.

This study coinsides with a Glamour article (November 2006) I was reading last week entitled "Are You Normal at Work?" The article stated that only 32 percent of women ages 25-34 clock 35 or more hours per week. Apparently, part-time work and flexible work are important to women as 80% of women polled say they'd take extended time off to care for family in the future. Perhaps some of what we call unequal pay, particularly as women get older is the choice of many women to take off time to raise families, a noble endeavor. To really evaluate how much gender discrimination plays a part in pay, studies must focus on the same job performed by men and women working exactly the same number of hours in today's market with the same requirements.



Blogger ada47 said...

Dr. Helen,
Interesting post. Here's a personal anecdote that I think is illustrative. My husband and I have pretty much the same job (biomedical scientists). We started as Assistant Profs. at the same time at the same starting salary. For the first few years, we advanced (salary-wise) at a similar rate. We had a child about four years ago. I stopped my tenure clock, as per university policy, to make up for the lost time. It was a great decision, I have no regrets.

My husband had no such option open to him. He's been a tremendoud partner and father, but ever since our daughter was born, he has worked more than I have. This really has been a deliberate choice on both of our parts.

Meanwhile, he's advanced, has published more papers, been awarded more grants, and has been promoted to Associate Prof. So he has a higher salary.

Meanwhile, my salary is plenty good, and I am working plenty hard (also have grants and publications, just fewer than my husband) but I lag behind him both in terms of hours worked and salary earned.

I don't pretend that there is no discrimination out there, or that my family's happily hard-working and affluent life is reflective of the experience of many, but I think it is a useful example of exactly what you are talking about.

Recently I made casual reference to the fact that now my husband makes more money than I do, and someone remarked on how unfair that was. In my particular case, it did not strike me as unfair. He's put in more time at the office than I have, and we both chose the situation. If anything, I feel very fortunate to be in a profession that, at least now, realizes the importance of maternity/parental leave and gave me a chance to catch up. Otherwise, I'd probably be unemployed.

I know of a few women who are very advanced in terms of funding, productivity, visibility, prestige and, I assume, salary. Some of these women have families. The ones that do also have husbands whose careers, in general, lag behind those of the wives. It would be interesting to see salary information there-what is the salary gap in those households, and who is the top earner. I suspect that in these cases, the women make more than their husbands, but I'll probably never know.

3:23 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger Henry Cate said...

I have a Dilbert Calendar. it is a good way to start the day. A recent set of strips had the secretary send out a spreadsheet with the salaries. A tech writer goes to Alice, a senior engineer. The tech writer says that she had always thought there was a glass ceiling and that is why she wasn't making more money. But after having seen the spreadsheet she was surprised that Alice had the highest salary. The tech writer starts to say that maybe the problem is with her, that there is no one else to blame. Then she says something like wait, I'm not making more money because of illegal aliens.

Our society finds it easier to blame someone else, to play the victim card, than to acknowledge hard truths, like someone people really do earn their higher salary.

3:28 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

heres a story from wimbledon this year. the prize was £300,000, and women wanted an equal share. ok.. thats not too bad. but looking deeper, the women only play 3 games, the men play 5. so on paper it looks like equal pay.. but its in reality the women get more.

and its about choices, and what other benefits that exist in the work place.. they all add up, to this mythical 26cents..

i am not saying it doesnt happen, but its not as bad as people think.

3:40 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

Sports aren't a good analogy, because like any entertainment the viewers are making a subjective choice in addition to an objective one. There's a reason the WNBA makes a lot less than the NBA, just like there's a reason Playboy is a lot more profitable than Playgirl.

A few years back I seem to recall a study that did adjust for everything, and it found women made 97% of men's salary, and unmarried women in the same job made more than unmarried men. My guess is a lot of men with high income are tradesmen who earn a lot because they can put in 60-70 hour weeks, in addition to different values placed on time and money by the sexes.

If you think about all the high salary jobs that are stressful, dangerous, or in a bad location, like working oil rigs in Alaska, the only one I can think of that's heavily female is nursing. And the reason they can never find enough women is because they don't want to work all those hours...

4:22 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

but the women won and would get more money for less work than the men, thats not equal pay, but the touted it as equal pay.

but i agree with most of your points matthew.

4:26 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...


I don't disagree with you either, I just see how a dishonest debater could attack your argument, and given the history of feminist arguments (we still that 78% of men's salary b.s.) they will take any thread they find and pull.

4:39 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

well they will do that with any fact given anyway.. so .. might as well carry on saying it ;-).

i do have documentation to support it. ;-) that its not equal pay, for equal work.

5:09 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

For many of today's jobs, the whole idea of "hours worked" gets pretty fuzzy. If you're an executive or a scientist, for example, you probably sometimes think about your job while driving, or while eating breakfast, or while reading magazines or blogs, or even while walking on the beach. Do these episodes count as "hours worked?" On the other hand, there are probably times at work you check your portfolio on-line, or order a book, or read blogs. Does this time get subtracted from "hours worked?"

A lot of our present thinking about work is still strongly influenced by the days when most people did work in which hours were strickly measurable and the production-to-hours ratio was pretty fixed. Not so true anymore.

5:54 PM, August 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's something else as well- men work harder typically at a business. Most women in the workplace (unless it's low-wage manual labor & that's because they are being heavily supervised) act like cats- they just sit there, eat and stare when they even bother to come in, or they just start trouble- wanting to have their 'meetings' every five minutes to discuss what amounts to nothing.

Let's face it, women entering the workplace has been a disaster and a joke. Notice when someone comments on women in the workplace they mention "women are 'present' everywhere"- not women have made American business so much better." So women are so 'present.' So is herpes. (ha)

Men also do all the hardest and most dangerous jobs that are invisible to women. Women are only brilliant at one thing: Deception.

This 'subject' is only in thousands of examples of how most women have no corresponding intelligence to the world they live in.

It's mind-boggling to me how mind bogglingly stupid someone would have to be to not understand 'more work=more pay.'

But then most of what most women say is pure idiocy. Look at most of them that comment on here.

6:00 PM, August 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can definitely say about this is that I haven' worked only 40 hours a week in about 30 years. 9 to 9.5 hours a day is mostly average, with sometimes 2 to 4 on Saturday to "mop up" loose ends from the previous week. Saturday mornings I am undisturbed and can accomplish more than in 2 weekdays of work where it is impossible to stay on one project until completed. But since what I do is in support of 24 hours per day industrial operations and power generation, I'm really pretty lucky. Some have it where they are on call 24 hours a day.

People who are really good at what they do (not necessarily talking about myself) make it look easy to a novice eye.

I suppose one could say that some women need to play 5 matches every time, or shut up.

9:13 PM, August 17, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Since I got out of college I always seemed to get trapped in situations where I was working 70-120 hours a week until I blew a fuse & then got nothing. And then I'd ramp back up and the cycle continues. Safe to safe our system is FUBAR.

9:52 PM, August 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To really evaluate how much gender discrimination plays a part in pay..."

Feministas don't want to know. Someone might take away their whiny doll if the facts were all on the table.

12:05 AM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Troy said...

Is that why Glenn posts more? :-) Of course, you write more per post than he does....

12:33 AM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

There's discrimination and it goes both ways. Of course, the discrimination which males face is seen as a good thing.

Hours worked must play a part in wages. So must safety. So must working conditions. So must more than twenty other factors.

Here in Canada the most common job for males is truck driver, the most common for females is retail clerk. Well! We pay truck drivers more than retail clerks and for VERY good reasons!

3:37 AM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

When comparing different jobs, you have to look at supply and demand to figure real worth. So, no surprise that some typically male jobs pay more - they are physically much harder and in many cases, have higher barriers to entry and exit.

So, most of the time when you see attempts at pay equality, what you see is an attempt to equate a less physically demanding job with low barriers to entry and exit with a more physically demanding one with higher barriers.

So, I was commenting to someone yesterday about someone with an associate's degree in daycare, that that degree, plus $5 will buy you coffee at Starbucks. She repsonded that that was the cost of a Starbucks coffee. And that was my point. That job has most of the reasons that a market would assign it low pay - very low barriers to entry, a lot of (mostly) women want to do it, and a limited demand for it. So, no surprise that someone working in this area often earns less than she would working for McDonalds.

Point is that most jobs pay roughly what the market will bear. Part time executives or professionals earn less than full time ones because they are less valuable and those jobs are more in demand.

The studies have repeatedly shown that when pay comparability is controlled for number of hours worked over time, women do make essentially as much as comparably situated males. But since they are more likely to take time off to raise their families, and even when working "full time" are less likely to work longer hours, their pay lags accordingly.

And that is all that we can realistically ask for.

10:08 AM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Kevin said...

Responding to the first comment, by ada47:

Thanks for your comment. The choices you made sound good to me. One thing you didn't mention, and seems to always get overlooked, is that since you and your husband have joined together as a married couple, you benefit from your husbands higher salary, and he also suffers because of your reduced salary. It was a sacrifice you were BOTH willing to make together, and you are together navigating the consequences.

My wife is a stay at home mom. If my salary were reduced in order to close the gap between me and those at work who took time off for the kids, then my wife would suffer for it, because I would take home less money.

Since men and women so often join forces in marriage and therefore succeed or fail together, it amazes me how often society tries to pit them against each other.

10:28 AM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger ada47 said...

Absolutely, Kevin. Good point, though admittedly an uncomfortable one.

Believe it or not, I do often have some guilt about my slow salary advancement. I'm not contributing financially to the household to the same extent as is my husband. On the other hand, if our daughter is sick and someone needs to be home, I usually take that if I can. When I can't, my husband stays home, but I am the default. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

We never consciously made this "deal", but it seems to have developed. When our daughter was very young, I took the time off, and when she was sick, going to work was about the last thing I wanted to do. Well, someone has to work, and someone has to be on the fast track to success, so he took that role.

David-about the "hours worked" issue: our job is such that we are often "working" while not at work and sometimes "not working" while at work. Still, we do make products-publications and successful grant proposals. The numbers of these products are often proportional to the time we put into working, whether at the office or elsewhere. This is probably true for many people whose working time is not confined to a physical space or a block of contiguous hours.

1:12 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Kevin said...

Please don't feel guilty! You provide a vital contribution in lieu of the difference in salary (but I know you realize that).

I think we've all come to emphasize the value of money to the exclusion of everything else. So, in this discussion of "less money for fewer hours", maybe we assume that those who take the fewer hours just aren't up to making the sacrifice that they should. But taking some time off from making money to ensure that the kids are healthy and grow up properly is a worthwhile and proper thing to do. It's still work, it just has a different payoff. (This has been on my mind a lot lately - I've got 4 young kids, and my wife, currently a stay-at-home mom, has a tougher job than mine!).

1:42 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Flash Gordon said...

Charles Murray credits roughly 4,000 people in human history who are responsible for all achievement in science, medicine, literature, art and politics. They are almost all men.

The explanation may be sex discrimination throughout the ages. But Murray offers another theory that I found insightful.

It is possible for a father to spend 20 hours working intensely in a lab or other place of endeavor without ever once thinking about his children. For most mothers that would be utterly impossible.

1:48 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Flash Gordon,

I can think of a number of women off the top of my head that have made contributions to those fields such as Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Grace Hopper, and Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross and there are many more. I think that some women are capable of working intensely without thinking of their kids every five minutes.

4:33 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Troy said...

But aren't those women exceptions that prove the rule? Across time and culture -- women mostly do the child rearing (yes here are exceptions of course). Yes "some" "Many" etc . can do work without worrying about the kids, but don't "most" worry about the kids more than men? Is it possible to prove that?

I would argue that raising good children -- in the long haul -- is at least as important as founding the Red Cross or standing with Ronald Reagan against Communism. Probably moreso -- though motherhood is vastly underappreciated.

6:36 PM, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Flash Gordon & troy: There is a fairly large minority of men who think of their children and do so constantly. There is a fairly large minority of women who pay no attention to children, theirs or anyone else's. Those minorities run somewhere between 10% and 33% of the population.

The simple all-are-alike thinking you use here is not good for our culture or our species.

3:53 AM, August 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ada47 and her husband are a team.
Partners in life. If that isn't living the dream.........

Ineffably cool.

6:48 AM, August 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In my dictionary, "most" and "all" have different meanings. Troy didn't say "all", he said "most".

Even you concede the point by refering to a "large minority who think of their children and do so constantly." In other words, some do, but most don't.

I believe Troy is correct, "most" men don't spend time during the work day thinking about the kids.

Some or many do, but most do not because men compartementalize to a much greater degree than women.

JW, poor vocabulary and reading comprehension skills are not good for our culture and reflect poorly upon our species.

11:22 AM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I wanted to comment on this sooner but I've been too busy with with work related stuff. :-)

Actually, I put great emphasis on controlling the time I spend on work and have intentionally not applied for higher level positions. I do this to maximize the time I spend with my kids, etc. I realize that this limits my income more and career advancement. I accept that.

When I die, I'm sure I will lament some things but not being manager of my department isn't one of them.

12:13 PM, August 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like most of us, I have 8x10's of my kids on my desk, and wallet size photos in my........wallet (duh).

3:54 PM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

I expect that the amount of time people spend thinking about their children at work is more a function of the nature of their work and its demands than of their gender. Most likely, the typical air traffic controller at a busy facility doesn't spend a whole lot of time on the job thinking about his or her kids. Nor does a surgeon in the OR or a sales rep in the middle of a customer presentation. People in an office environment where there are no pressing deadlines at the moment, on the other hand, may think about all kinds of non-work-related things.

4:17 PM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Flash Gordon said...

Murray's 4,000 includes women, just not very many. And thinking about one's kids every 5 minutes isn't the issue. Not thinking about them or about anything other than your obsession for long periods is.

6:05 PM, August 19, 2007  
Blogger 1charlie2 said...


This won't help (at least it doesn't help when I tell my wife), but there's no need to feel guilt over your choice. This from a man in your husband's position: We don't see you as contributing "less," only contributing differently.

My wife stopped working (Ed. Psych, if it matters) when our first was born. (Frankly, I was making more money) After our youngest was in school full time, she went back to work, first at positions below her capability, and gradually working up.

She's now happily employed, teaching students who like her, with an administration that likes her, doing what she enjoys.

Meanwhile, I worked continuously, and moonlighted at consulting gigs to make up lost income. During the intervening years, my job, my responsibilities, and my salary has continued to rise.

We both made choices. And they worked. Our kids have turned out well, we're financially doing fine, and there's no need for guilt.

Different note: I do know of one severe salary discrepancy: Professional female who take years off for child-rearing take less of a salary hit than males who do the same thing. I'll see if I can dredge up the cite.

12:55 PM, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

It's all about choices. When the offspring was born, I chose to work part time. My husband, on the other hand, chose to work more hours.

End result? I've received steady raises of 2-4% a year.

Husband? Well, he's been promoted twice and is up about 40% over 4 years ago.

Is it fair? Absolutely. He works 60-80 hours a week. I work 20-25.

I could be where he is--I'm smart enough and can work hard enough--but I chose not to.

And after working part time for 4 years, I'm afraid I never want to go back to full time.

7:56 AM, August 21, 2007  
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