The Scientific Fundamentalist

A look at the hard truths about human nature.

Women have better things to do than make money III

Do shoe store clerks discriminate against men?

The sex gap in earnings and the so-called glass ceiling are caused, not by employer discrimination or any other external forces, but by the evolved and internal sex differences in preferences, values, desires, dispositions, and temperaments.  Just as there are a few exceptional women who are more single-mindedly motivated to earn money and attain higher status than the average man, so too are there a few women who make more money and attain higher status than most men.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, feminists claimed that women earned only 59 cents for every dollar earned by men.  The precise figure has since been revised upward to 64 cents in 1986, 70 cents in 1987, and, according to President Clinton (if he counts as a feminist), 75 cents in 1999, but their claim is that women still earn substantially less than men do.  However, all of these comparisons ignore the inherent sex differences in dispositions and temperaments, and the fact that most women are not interested in making money as much as men are because they have better things to do than make money.  More careful statistical comparisons of men and women who are equally motivated to earn money show that women now earn 98 cents for every dollar men make, and sex has no statistically significant effect on workers’ earnings.  Adjusted for occupation and motivation, men today do not earn significantly more than women do.

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Just as most women are not as single-mindedly motivated to earn money and attain higher status as the average man, most women do not earn as much money and attain as high status as men do.  Browne rhetorically asks the question, “Once one breaks the glass ceiling, does it still exist?”  His work convincingly demonstrates that the glass ceiling as an external constraint probably never existed in the first place.  In liberal capitalist societies like the US and the UK, both men and women are free to pursue what they want.  They just tend to want different things.

To argue that women make less money than men do because employers discriminate against them and “patriarchal forces” oppress them, is as absurd as arguing that men don’t own as many pairs of shoes as women do because shoe store clerks discriminate against them and prevent them from buying as many pairs of shoes as women do as a pernicious instrument of matriarchal oppression.  The undeniable fact that the average woman owns more pairs of shoes than the average man does not at all mean that shoe store clerks discriminate against men.  Women buy and own more pairs of shoes than men do simply because they want to (and men have better things to do than buy shoes).  Similarly, men make more money than women do simply because they want to (and women have better things to do than make money).

Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at LSE and the coauthor (with the late Alan S. Miller) of Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters.

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