Men's 'overwork' widens gender gap in wages

Dec 11, 2013 by H. Roger Segelken

(Phys.org) —By now, social scientists once predicted, the gender gap in wages should have been as thin as a Roosevelt dime. More and more highly educated women were entering and staying in the workforce – many in lucrative occupations where formerly only men were found.

So why has the gap between men and women's hourly pay stopped shrinking?

Men's "overwork" has a lot to do with it, according to Kim Weeden, Cornell professor of sociology. She says employers are paying more per hour to workers – and men in particular – who put in exceptionally long workweeks.

"Women – even highly educated women – still spend far more time than men on housework and child care," says Weeden, co-author, with Indiana University's Youngjoo Cha (Cornell Ph.D. 2010), of "Overwork and Slow Convergence in the Gender Gap in Wages," to be published in a forthcoming issue of American Sociological Review. ("Overwork" is defined as 50 or more hours a week at a single job.)

The Cornell sociologist concedes, "Today's are spending more time with their children than their fathers did. But the in core housework – cooking, cleaning, other day-to-day tasks – hasn't changed much in the past 25 years. These dynamics in the household carry over into a gender gap in who puts in long work hours."

The sociologists' article says 21st century overworkers are concentrated in the so-called "greedy occupations," such as doctors, lawyers, even academics. In these occupations, Weeden says, "employers often expect undivided attention, loyalty and time commitments from their employees. In some cases, employees compete over who can put in the most hours.

"Just as college students boast about pulling all-nighters," the Cornell professor observes, "employees in greedy may boast about putting in long hours."

Yet not all workers today can overwork, even if they want to. People who work long hours at a single job, Weeden observes, are less common in today's workforce than people who would like to work more hours at their main jobs but don't have the opportunity.

"With the decline of manufacturing, the growth of the service sector, and the waning power of unions," Weeden says, "there are fewer opportunities for lower-skilled workers to earn overtime or a living wage at just one job." Low wage workers – particularly service workers, the majority of whom are women – have to "cobble together multiple part-time or full-time low-paying jobs, and work longer hours overall, to have the same inflation-adjusted income as of a bygone era."

Explore further: New 'Surveyman' software promises to revolutionize survey design and accuracy

More information: The complete paper, "Overwork and Slow Convergence in the Gender Gap in Wages" is here: mypage.iu.edu/~cha5/Youngjoo_C… files/Cha_weeden.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gender gap in STEM majors linked to high school job plans

May 10, 2013

(Phys.org) —The fact that women are much less likely than men to choose science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors in college can be traced to gender differences in occupational plans in high school, reports ...

Long work hours widen the gender gap

Aug 01, 2008

Working overtime has a disproportionate impact on women in dual-earner households, exacerbating gender inequality and supporting the "separate sphere" phenomenon in which men are the breadwinners while women tend to the home, ...

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

Oct 23, 2014

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

Oct 23, 2014

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2013
Gosh, whoda thunk it?

It's not misogyny, not male hegemony, not gender discrimination, not the old boys' clubs, it's productivity that determines the wage gap between men and wymmyn. More proof that capitalism is evil.

The more productive will just have to give up their ill-gotten raises and allow government to redistribute it to the less productive. Great incentive systems like that will ensure that everyone has economic equality in their poverty.