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Women have better things to do than make money II

Why do men make more money than women?

As I explain in the previous post, employer discrimination (or any other external factor) as an explanation for why men make more money than women assumes that men and women are on the whole identical in their preferences, values, desires, and temperaments. But men and women are inherently and fundamentally different.

The legal scholar Kingsley R. Browne has pioneered evolutionary psychological work on the sex differences in the workplace, such as earnings and occupational sex segregation. Browne points out that, because of different selection pressures that they faced throughout evolutionary history, men and women have evolved to possess different temperaments. Throughout evolutionary history, higher status was a man’s essential means to reproductive success, because women preferred to mate with resourceful men of high status who could protect and invest heavily in their children. In contrast, physically taking care of children was a woman’s principal means to reproductive success. As a result, women today, who inherited their psychological mechanisms from their female ancestors, are far less risk-taking (because if their ancestors engaged in risky behavior and got injured or killed as a result, their children most likely died), less status-seeking (because status did not enhance women’s reproductive success), and less aggressive and competitive (because throughout evolutionary history, men competed to gain access to women, not the other way around).

In his book Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality, Browne suggests that men are much more single-mindedly devoted to earning money and achieving higher status than women are. In a study of an American sample, men are significantly more likely to rank income as an important criterion for selecting a job than women are. The absolute sex difference is greater among teenagers than among older workers, so the sex difference in the importance of income is not caused by women’s realistic response to a lifetime’s experience of earning less than men, as feminists and other traditional social scientists might contend. In contrast, women place significantly greater emphasis on the criterion “the work is important and gives me a feeling of accomplishment” for selecting a job. As Anne Moir and David Jessel, authors of Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women, state: “In the end, the secret of male achievement in the world of work probably lies in the relative male insensitivity to the world of everything – and everybody – else.”

Browne reminds us that many jobs that pay higher wages require their occupants to work longer hours, relocate to new cities without regard to consequences for family and children (for white-collar or professional jobs), or work in dangerous and unpleasant conditions (for blue-collar jobs). It is not that women do not want money or prefer less money to more; nobody in their right mind does. It is instead that women are unwilling to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices (often in the welfare and well-being of their children) in order to advance in the corporate hierarchy and earn more money. Once again, Moir and Jessel put it best: “Men who fail will often offer the excuse that ‘Success isn’t worth the effort.’ To the female mind, this is not so much an excuse as self-evident truth.” In other words, men make more money because they want to; women make less money because they have better things to do than make money.

About the Author
Satoshi Kanazawa

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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