Gender Gap Theory Collapses Under Scrutiny
The gender gap in wages is real, and it cannot be explained by a theory
that men put more time and effort into their jobs, sociologists announced
at the American Sociological Association meeting last August.
William Bielby, an NSF-funded sociologist from the University of California, Santa Barbara,
tested a theory used by some economists to explain inequities in wages
between men and women.
In short, the theory says that due to family commitments,
women put in less time and effort at work than men do. Or, as Bielby told
the United Press International, the theory is: "Hour-for-hour, men are
more productive than women, who have greater household responsibilities.
And [men] receive more pay and better career opportunities as a result."
Bielby and his colleagues interviewed 500 employed adults and their employers.
He found "no support" for this theory.
"In fact," he told UPI, "our results
showed that compared to men with similar household responsibilities, human
capital and work contexts, women allocate substantially more effort to
Other sociologists presented evidence that the wage
gap has closed slightly since the 1960s, when women earned 59 cents for
every dollar men earned. Now women are earning an average of 71 cents to
the dollar, according to Suzanne Bianchi, a sociologist at the University
of Maryland, College Park.