decades, we in the media have reported that women earn less
than men. As a result, we've created a generation of angry
women and self-conscious men.
A new book, "Why Men Earn More," by Dr. Warren
Farrell, shows we've been dead wrong: For the same work, women
earn more than men. His findings are based on a comprehensive
review of government and other statistics.
Farrell is no right-wing misogynist. He ran for the Democratic
nomination for California governor. He's the only man ever
elected three times to the board of the National Organization
for Women in New York City. And he's no intellectual lightweight;
the Financial Times named him one of the world's top 100 thought
The book's main message is good news for women: If women do
one or more of the 25 things men more often do, women can earn
more than men.
Farrell does not encourage nor discourage women from doing
these 25 things: "Each of the 25 usually requires trading
quality of life for money. I just want women and men to be
aware of their options so they can craft a life rather than
just accept what drops in their lap."
The 25 can be reduced to three:
1. Choose careers that pay more.
Because of supply and demand, you'll earn more by choosing
a job that:
is in an unpleasant environment (prison vs. childcare
requires harder-to-attain skills (hard science vs. liberal
requires longer work hours (executive vs. administrative
is unrewarding to most people (tax accountant vs. artist);
demands financial risk (commission-based sales vs. government
is inconvenient (traveling salesperson vs. teacher);
is hazardous (police officer vs. librarian).
Many more men than women are willing to accept such jobs,
even when women are paid more. For example, women sales engineers
earn 143 percent of their male counterparts' salaries, yet
less than 20 percent of sales engineers are women.
2. Put in more hours.
That's obvious, but key. For example, Farrell cites research
that "Fortune 1000 CEOs typically paid their dues with
60- to 90-hour workweeks for about 20 years. Yet women are
less than half as likely as men to work more than 50 hours
a week. And women are less likely to agree, every few years,
to uproot themselves and their families to far-flung places
to get the necessary promotions."
Why? Because women, on average, are more involved in childrearing
and other domestic activities. So, if a woman (or man) expects
to rise to high-paying jobs, she may need to push harder to
get hubby more involved in those activities, pay for childcare
and domestic services, or decide not to have children.
I asked Farrell, "But shouldn't workplaces not expect
a woman (or a man) to work so many hours that family life
is undercut?" He responded, "Yes, absolutely, but
we must be gender-fair. If a male corporate manager chose
to take care of his children, we'd applaud him but not expect
the workplace to promote him as quickly. Yet when women do
the same, women's advocacy organizations often expect just
that. Both men and women must accept the consequences of their
3. Be more productive in the hours
you do work. If women produce as much as men, the
good news is they will likely be rewarded. For example, women's
advocacy organizations complain that female professors earn
less than male professors, but Farrell cites research that
among professors who produce an equal number of journal articles,
"men were likely to be paid the same or just slightly
less than women."
I asked Farrell, "But apart from the 25 nonsexist reasons
men earn more, isn't sexism still a factor?" He responded,
"There are instances of discrimination against both women
and men, but on average, no. If you knew you could hire a
woman for less than an equivalent man, you'd hire women to
get a price advantage over your competition. Do you think
businesses so hate women that they hire more expensive men
even though they'd lose so much money?"
In reflecting on Farrell's book, I wonder if, rather than
denigrating men for earning more, we should respect them for
their willingness to do unpleasant, but necessary, work that
few women will do such as roofing, coal mining or guarding
a prison -- often working themselves into an early grave.
There are four widows for every widower.
And men, you might learn a lesson from women and consider
trading money for quality of life.