13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money

Ramit Sethi

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Thanks to the 35+ comments on the last post, Rob from BankSwitcher (“Switching banks is hard…we make it easier”) was kind enough to re-analyze the data from my survey on gender and money (n=1,167).

Below, you’ll see red highlighting around areas where there are dramatic gender differences. For example:

  • Slide 10: Guess who negotiates their salary more?
  • Slide 12: Indulgences by gender
  • Slide 16: Feelings towards money are dramatically different
  • Slide 19: What personal-finance topics do men vs. women prefer?
  • Slide 25: Absolutely staggering differences in perceptions of equal pay

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  1. rob rubin

    I’m having fun playing with the results of the survey recently fielded on this blog. And I can see from the comments that many people want to see the results. There’s tons of interesting stuff to analyze, but a word of caution: the sample was “self-selected” and therefore shouldn’t be projected to represent larger populations, such as “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” readers specifically, or an entire gender of the US population. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the results. For example, there are strong differences between genders that will be very interesting to explore.

    I found Q10 (“What are your feelings towards money and finance?”) a great question for analysis. Respondents were presented with seven attributes (Indifference, Anxiety, Apprehension, Confusion, Confidence, Exhilaration and Depression) to choose from (multiple responses were accepted). I respect decisive people, so when given the opportunity to click seven boxes, I notice those who’ve clicked only one. And while a surprisingly high 68% of respondents had the resolve to click only one box, it’s the cocksure 39% (456 respondents out of 1,171) that just clicked “Confidence” who have piqued my interest the most. What’s behind their bravado? From the survey, we learn these respondents — I’ll call “The Singularly Confident” — are more likely to:

    • Keep up-to-date with financial news. People are confident in subjects they know something about. That’s why these folks consume more finance-related content than their less certain counterparts (see Figure 1).

    • Plan for the future. Sadly, I’m 43 and would have been an outlier on this survey. But given the age-range of most respondents (18 – 31), I was surprised how many indicated that saving for retirement was a priority (see Figure 2). I remember way back to my 20s… my financial priority was saving to buy a house. [Many people think buying a house is an excellent investment towards retirement. Except small children appear once you move in — which is not good for retirement.] Thankfully, these respondents are realistic — fewer expect anyone else to support them during their golden years (see Figure 3).

    • Think like capitalists. I love how their capitalist attitudes show up everywhere. For example, this group is more likely to negotiate their own salaries (see Figure 4); have “good” debt (see Figure 5); and compared to others, they’re more likely to want to read about investment-oriented topics (see Figure 6).

    To view Figures 1 – 6:

    Of course, everybody aspires to feel confident when it comes to money and finance. The Singularly Confident feel good about themselves because they keep up with the financial world, have long-term investment strategies and act in their own best financial interests. To feel more confident, I’m going to revisit the assumptions behind my current retirement plan (at least 3 years old) and move a personal finance book (The Automatic Millionaire) from the bottom of my book pile to the top (and adopt at least two suggestions from that book). I think that’s a good place to start.

    By Rob Rubin, CEO of Facilitas Inc., a NYC-based technology start-up.
    Facilitas has introduced the first-ever technology to make it easier to switch banks. Check out the beta at

  2. Cool research about people and finances at Why I Fired My Bank

    […] Click here to check it out Bookmark using Digg It! […]

  3. Paul

    Is there any way to see a bigger version of the slide show? It’s impossible to read.

  4. eROCK

    @ Paul

    Click on the icon “on SlideShare” and it will take you to the SlideShare page where the slides are more readable.

  5. David Robarts

    Paul: You can click over to SlideShare to see it there. SlideShare has a link to “full” that gave me a nearly full-screen window but still had a small slide (browser compatibility?). I ended up downloading the PowerPoint file from SlideShare and viewing it in NeoOffice (a Max port).

  6. Meg

    I love this survey! As a female, I am not surprised by any of the results really. I realize through my interactions with clients and friends that women think about money very differently than men do (like they tend to worry more about having enough, and they are more likely to feel unsure about their abilitiy to manage money). I was very interested to see how women’s priorities are different though–like how they put “travel” at the top of those lists. Great info.

    I do think the discrepencies in equal pay perceptions are a little surprising. I thought it was a given (even to men) that women get paid less. This discrepency has been proven over and over and is evident from the first year of the first job out of college–when men and women have the exact same resumes and work experience and before women have taken any maternity leave. There are a variety of possible explanations of course (like the fact that women are far less likely to negotiate their salaries), but it’s interesting how many men don’t acknowledge this situation…

    • michael

      Negotiate their salary you need a reality check, all jobs if or not you are a man or a woman applying for the job and you get that job, guess what the contracts are the same regardless of sex, their is no salary negotiation that goes on you are paid what you are offered and what you accept, men have a very profound ay of making money guess what they don’t rely on one income stream and don’t rely on just their stupid jobs to make money, NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND

  7. Jill F

    Thanks for re-visiting the data and following-up; very interesting these comparisons. Like Meg above, the salary data sparked my surprise.

  8. mike c

    I still stick to my original assertion several posts ago that some of the questions were worded in a way to direct the survey taker to provide a certain response. I wasn’t very surprised by the gender specific results.

    One that struck me as funny that I’ll share with my wife because it relates to our own relationship… who stresses more about finances by gender. I always argue that I stress more because I’m the sole breadwinner for the family and it’s my duty to provide financially for the family’s current needs as well as our short and long term savings goals. My wife always argues that there’s more stress on her because I’m the one bringing home the paycheck, so she must be extra careful with spending on our needs vs wants, so that we have some money to put away for the future. Financial stress comes in many forms.

  9. jo

    As a mid 20’s person living in sydney i find some of this data isnt applicable here. In terms of earning more/less between genders it is equal from what i’ve experience here – I have in fact been privy (i’m in the recruitment industry) to many cases where an employee that is male earns less than a female for doing more/similar work.

    The negotiation of salary differs too, I find women wont bring it up in the initial interviewing/hiring process but instead will work for some time and make the most of training opportunities before asking for a raise. I think the female approach is more advantageous here.

    Metro women here are incredibly fashion and consumerist based, I honestly do not understand how they can support themselves all while wearing such expensive clothes. Men pour more money in to cars and gadgets and I think all could really be a bit smarter in their financial habits – but i guess the attitude is that you are only young once.

    Working in the recruitment industry i’m very sad to be seeing charts like this as it further enforces that women are on uneven footing in terms of salary and financial ability versus men – which simply is not true. I do believe that obsessive/focussed men, a minority, would tip the scales in some cases, but I enjoy the distributed approach of women much better and find this makes for a much better lifestyle and stability in the workplace as well as financially.


  10. Harri

    to Meg and numerous others who still think it’s a given that women get unequal pay: this most likely is highly exaggerated, if not outright false. Women do earn less money _on aggregate_. ie. if you take the median pay for women and men, women earn less. This holds true within industries, professions or job functions. But that’s only one part of the story, and not the part that matters within this discussion. The aggregate median pay is a good measure of aggregate median pay (duh), but an entirely wrong measure of existence of discrimination or even inequality.

    A major reason for the discrepancy is the fact that women _choose_ jobs which pay less, they _choose_ to work fewer hours, and they _choose_ to get out of the workforce. 90% of unskilled or low-skilled workers in relatively high-paying but deadly jobs (mining, construction, etc.) are men, whereas women choose to be less-paid but safe bank tellers and secretaries. Study after study has shown that women work fewer hours in most (all?) industries by choosing flext-time, part-time jobs, or take longer sabbaticals and have maternity leave. And the women who get out of the workforce to bring up children don’t earn money. (Yes, they produce a valuable service to the society, and as such they most likely should be compensated, but that’s another discussion.) Hypergamy also has a role in the fewer working hours and higher opting out rates. I am not aware of studies of its effects on pay levels, only of its existence even in the west.

    When all of these factors are taken into account, the wage gap is exposed as the myth it is. In fact, my educated (MSc in economics) guesstimate is that in Nordic countries – where the aggregate average pay level between the sexes is almost the same – women earn more money per hour worked than a man in the same position.

    So, instead of demonizing men as money-grabbers and a bunch of good-old-boy networkers, it would be much more conducive to study why women choose to opt out of higher wages. Understanding the reasons we could lure more women to produce goods and services civilization demands. Promoting the wage gap myth will hurt women themselves in the long run, and the society as a whole through skewed productivity/pay relationship.

    And let’s not forget that money is not everything: a stay-at-home mom produces a much more valuable service to the society than someone working at McDonald’s, although it is not reflected in her pay. Hell, I’d claim she’s more valuable to the society than the average engineer! On an individual level perhaps some women have found out that fewer working hours equal higher standard of living. It is women, after all, who live longer and have lower suicide rates.

  11. kmg

    @ Harri: How is that “lalala I can’t hear you” working out for you?

  12. Customers Revenge

    I like Harri’s response. I haven’t done any studies, but I am in a professional environment where many women at a similar level to me earn very similar salaries and even higher. I do know women who earn significantly less and I definitely attribute those specific cases to individuals who do not seek out higher paying (and often more demanding) opportunities or who do not take enough of a stand at salary time.

    One person I know made about 15% less than I though she should, I told her, she took a proper stand and got her 15%. It was that simple to correct “the gender gap”. She could have gotten a 25% raise if she only accepted a job offer that crossed her desk, which would have required her to work in the field much more.

    I think that companies take qualified people and will pay the minimum they can to keep them. In jobs of the same type in the same company I think you would find that women and men get paid very similarly.

  13. Kat

    I work in a male dominated field, architecture. I don’t work fewer hours than my male colleagues and I am not leaving to pop out a baby.
    My first job out of college I was offered 6-10k less than males with less work experience than I had. I tried to negotiate my salary. No budging. They were a bunch of good old boys who didn’t feel women should be paid the same. The only reason they like having women around are because we are cute. I worked there for 3 months, until I found another job. I have to fight for every penny I deserve and I know the other graduating women in my class have had to do the same. We aren’t a bunch of women taking teller jobs; we are well educated and willing to work long hours. Yet we continually have to fight for our fair pay.

  14. Harri

    @ kmg: How’s that ad hominem working out for you? Feel free to actually have an argument next time.

    @ Customers Revenge and Kat: anecdotal evidence doesn’t equal data. It’s a bit frustrating to debate these issues when every time somebody knows somebody who was discriminated. As if the issue wasn’t contentious enough as it is. There are numerous rigorous studies done on these issues, and few outliers – no matter how personal – doesn’t change the results.

    I’m not saying there’s no discrimination in wages. I’m sure there is. But it is blown way out of proportion, and when comparing oranges to oranges western women are doing about as well as men, pay-wise.

  15. Matt

    It’s pretty easy to use logic to discard the gender wage gap myth.

    Let’s assume men and women are equally productive and women do work for less than men of equal productivity. Since compaines want to hire people at the most attractive price in relation to productivity, over time, companies would realise the gap and either a) only hire women or b) force men to lower their wage expectations to that of women.

    Since this is not happening one of the assumptions must be wrong. Either men and women are not equally productive or there is no wage gap between the sexes.

  16. Cecily


    The two assumptions you listed aren’t the only assumptions in your scenario. Let me list a few more:

    – That companies can always accurately assess the productivity of their employees, and the potential productivity of job applicants.
    – That companies, without fail, “want to hire people at the most attractive price in relation to productivity”, and no confounding factors such as nepotism, negotiating skills, subjective assessments of “likability”, “fitting into the culture”, physical attractiveness and so on ever come into play.

    Both of these assumptions have been shown to be false in studies. Hiring managers are people, and people’s decisions don’t always sit neatly on those curves we learn about in Econ 101. If they did, there would be no need for this site.

    There are plenty of studies like the two below:

    Harri: Right, women “choose” to make less money by consistently entering lower-paying fields and then taking more time off once children enter the picture. Why is it that men aren’t making these “choices” in such great numbers? Doesn’t that point to some sort of inequality, in circumstances or in expectations, somewhere?

    Consider this: women choosing to devote their time to their husbands and children is what enables men to work those high-paying jobs with grueling hours. Many high-earning, successful men are supported by wives who take care of things like child care, household chores, errands and so on, allowing them to devote more time to their work. The partner-as-personal-assistant is a luxury that working women seldom have access to. If women were to stop assuming sole responsibility for these things, men would have a much tougher time putting in those 60-hour work weeks while still expecting to have a family, a house, a dog and so on.

  17. mike c

    harri said: “A stay-at-home mom produces a much more valuable service to the society than someone working at McDonald’s, although it is not reflected in her pay. Hell, I’d claim she’s more valuable to the society than the average engineer! ”

    I say, “As an engineer whose wife is a stay-at-home mom, I couldn’t agree more with this statement.”

  18. Harri

    Cecily, cogent points and a fresh perspective in your last paragraph, and I agree completely. That is exactly the kind of attitude I’d like to see more of: less finger-pointing, blaming and shaming, and more constructive criticism, creative thinking and looking for win-win solutions.

    If more men would be more willing to cut work hours – and more women willing to accept a household pay cut -, perhaps we would have healthier families. Too often I read about men who work too much and never play with their kids or spend “quality time” with their wifes. It’s a two-way street, and way too complicated to be summed up in a “women earn less” or “men work more” sound bite.

  19. m

    There’s quite a lot to dig into to understand the wage gap. Before saying that women *choose* to stay home with children, consider that there may be other factors pushing them into that “choice.” Would women choose to stay if the workplace was less hostile to them? If they were not expected to do the lion’s share of parenting? Would more men stay home or work part-time if the workplace was more flexible and it wasn’t considered unmanly to have a wife who was the primary breadwinner? There are cultural pressures at work here, and this country is particularly bad at creating family friendly policy.

    From E.J. Graff’s article at CJR:

    “Out of 168 countries surveyed by Jody Heymann, who teaches at both the Harvard School of Public Health and McGill University, the U.S. is one of only five without mandatory paid maternity leave—along with Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.”

    “In surveys done by the Boston College Sloan Work and Families Research Network and by the New York-based Families and Work Institute, among others, women and men increasingly say that they’d like to have more time with their families, and would give up money and advancement to do it—if doing so didn’t mean sacrificing their careers entirely. Men, however, must face fierce cultural headwinds to choose such a path, while women are pushed in that direction at every turn.”

    “maybe some women “chose” to go home. But they didn’t choose the restrictions and constrictions that made their work lives impossible. They didn’t choose the cultural expectation that mothers, not fathers, are responsible for their children’s doctor visits, birthday parties, piano lessons, and summer schedules. And they didn’t choose the bias or earnings loss that they face if they work part-time or when they go back full time.”

    For more, read the rest of the article. There are books written about this stuff. This is just a tiny piece of it.

  20. I Will Teach You To Be Rich » There’s an interesting discussion on women and salary happening in the comments section

    […] an interesting discussion happening in the comments of last week’s post about gender and money. As usual, the […]

  21. I believe the pay of women compared to men is …

    […] discussion on women and salary happening in the comments section which led me to his post 13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money. Of course, before I could read the comments I had to read what they were commenting […]

  22. April

    Just from my own perspective, I did choose a job that doesn’t require hours upon hours of overtime because I value quality of life and family-time more than money, so I identify with much of what has been said.

    As for salary negotiations, I am 100% guilty of not doing this. In my particular situation, I had wanted to work for the company I’m with now for over two years. One position opened up, but I didn’t get hired, so when the next one opened up, I aggressively pursued it and was offered the job. Unfortunately, I lost that aggression when they offered me the job and threw out a salary number. It was a little more than I was making before, and I just accepted it because I wanted the job. Now, a year later, we had a review, but salary isn’t discussed during performance reviews. A month or so after the review, at the end of the fiscal year, they bring you in, tell you what your raise is (which I think has already been put in the budget), and that’s that.

    I don’t mean it to explain all of this as a cop-out, I just don’t know when the appropriate time is to bring it up with my employer. That, and at my last company, anyone who asked for a raise was basically on their way out the door, so I admit I’m gun-shy.

  23. Jill Murray

    “I just don’t know when the appropriate time is to bring it [salary negotiations] up with my employer.”

    1- When you are offered the job. You’ll never be in a better negotiation position than up front– all your future raises will stem from this moment, so try to set yourself up well. An employer is NOT going to withdraw an offer because you ask for more. They’ll probably argue with you. You may not get everything you ask for. But maybe you will.

    2- If your duties & responsibilities increase, especially if you shift into a management role. You then have a perfectly reasonable case to argue. I do more than before, therefore my earnings should reflect that. Perhaps you are even saving them the trouble and expense of hiring extra hands.

    3- If your knowledge takes a leap. For instance, if you complete your Masters’ degree in your directly related field. Or if you’ve simply learned so much on the job that your expertise puts you far ahead of newer employees in your department.

    4- Once in a while, because you’re worth it, and to compensate (at least) for inflation.

    5- Every 3 months or so, if you’re a contractor 😉

  24. Meg

    Harri-I wasn’t blaming men (or calling them money hungry) when I asserted that they often make more than equally qualified women. And by equally qualified I mean same work experience, same job, same resume, etc. I do believe the figures are exaggerated–I don’t think the discrepency is that big when you adjust for all factors. But it does exist. As I said, this has been shown to be the case ONE TO FIVE YEARS OUT OF COLLEGE when resumes and work experience are similiar–in the SAME entry level jobs. I wish I knew exactly where I read that so I could link to the study/article. I’ve also read about studies that put men and women up for jobs with the exact same resume and got different results.

    I DON’T think these things are often the result of discrimination, and I know it’s not the same in every industry. I think discrimination and stereotypes play a subtle role (if a subconscious one).

    But the bottom line is that women will accept less. So the markets pay them less. THAT’s the problem. Men should not demand less; women need to demand more–actually they need to WANT more. I know too many girls hanging out in entry level jobs not trying to move up, not asking for more money, not working quite as hard as their male counterparts. It’s because of socialization. Young women don’t have the pressure that comes with wanting to (or having to) support an entire family. Sure they can if they want–but they aren’t considered a failure by society if they don’t. This changes incentives dramatically–which as we all know changes markets.

    Plus, many women (who probably would die before they admit it) are obviously just waiting to get married so they can quit working. Rather than find a rewarding job or focus on their careers, some women know (and plan) they can “opt out” of the workforce. All these factors skew the “medians” and “averages.”

  25. Harri

    Meg: A reasonable explanation why entry-level pay for women is lower would be because the _expected_ future productivity of women is lower than men. This is what fewer working hours, more likely to drop out of work force, etc. causes. And you yourself concede as much in your last paragraph.

    Whether such expectations are “right” is another matter. But such expectations are perfectly rational for the employer. Shareholders demand return on investment, and since men are more likely to produce more, they are valued more.

    So, in effect the odds are stacked against women from the get-go. If there was a way to ensure that an equally-qualified woman is just as likely to drop out of work force or take fewer hours in the future as a man, I bet she’d get equal pay. But as it stands, that’s not possible, and we have to rely on imperfect legislation, attitude adjustment, or status quo.

  26. SJ

    Interesting discussion. I make almost twice my husband’s salary, in a more demanding job, at the same institution. However, I do really believe that there is a wage gap, brought on by a combination of women not negotiating and a cultural workplace difference. For more stats, check out

    In terms of negotiating salary – I tried really hard for more salary when I was hired but didn’t get it – however I did get a promise to work from home one day per week (which in the end wound up as 1 day every other week or so) and that they expected that if I was as good at the job as they expected me to be, I would be considered for a promotion in 1-2 years. I decided to take the job, as the experience it offered would allow me to get a better job somewhere else if the salary never increased further.

    I planned to ask for a raise around my 1 year anniversary there – and was surprised by my boss giving me the promotion – with a 14K salary increase! without my asking. A big part of that was being very proactive in my review, talking about all the differences I’d made since I joined the group. etc, and also making the point to him that three people were supposed to be hired to do this job (and it is still only me 1.5 years later). I had been through career counseling prior to this switch and ti was really due to my counselor’s coaching that I took the review process so seriously as a way to advocate for my own achievements.

    I can’t speak to what it is like to grow up male, but as a female there is a strong cultural training not to be too loud about your accomplishments because you will not seem womanly (read: scare off prospective mates, but also that it doesn’t look good to society to be a strong woman) We’ve come a long way in our society with this, but let me say as a female scientist we are not all there yet – I and many of my colleagues still face discrimination, overt and subtle, based on gender, regardless of work ethic or parental status.

  27. April D

    “…as a female there is a strong cultural training not to be too loud about your accomplishments…”

    I think this is true, and I am by no means a shrinking violet. It’s hard for me to say “I this, I that…” and not say it more like it was a team effort, “we did this.”

    As a second issue, even if I did ask for a raise, I’m not sure how much. I’ve looked at those salary comparisons online, but honestly, they don’t relate closely enough to use as data. So maybe another part of the problem is that I don’t know what would be a reasonable request.

    I did get a raise this year, plus we have a company-wide bonus, so I’m not complaining, but I don’t want to be complacent and assume I’m being paid what I’m worth.

  28. Peter

    Meg, you state about the difference in pay: “This [discrepancy] has been proven over and over and is evident from the first year of the first job out of college.”. Perception of “equal work” may be different among women and men because it can be based on a prediction of future career. Even before maternity leave is taken, for example, those who have seen it happen many times or in their own lives can expect that within 5 years of college a portion of young women will get married and maybe have their first child. Some of them will come back to work quickly, some will take a year off, and still others will take 5 years or more off. Many husbands and fathers (such as myself) can even attest that women can have a hard time predicting when they will want a baby because it is a true biological need that can suddenly “appear” in someone who will “wait ten years” or “never have kids”. Remember the playground where girls said that boys were gross? “I’m never getting married,” they say. Only a few years later a biological need appears that changes their plans, and they write “Mrs. ” on their notebooks. Wanting babies can occur in the same way, can the results can be wonderful for a husband who would otherwise drag his heals.

    I know it isn’t fair to the career woman who does not have children in her 20s or 30s, but people with experience generalize on what they have seen to aid their predictions of the future. It is human nature and the nature of business to predict.

  29. Jongasm

    According to studies I’ve read in college, women generally get paid less for the “same” work. As time goes on it is starting to become more balanced, but it’s not there yet.

  30. Kent Irwin

    The survey on women and money is very interesting. I thought in this enlighten age we were closer to parity – but boy were we wrong, we discovered:
    • Earnings Differences: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women working full-time, year-round, earn roughly 74 percent of what men earn
    • Retirement Differences: A Study by the National Center for Women and Retirement Research at Southampton College of Long Island University found that 58 percent of baby boomer women had saved less than $10,000 in a pension or 401(k) plan, while baby boomer men had saved three times that.
    • Social Security & Retirement Plan Differences: Of course, less money earned by women, means less money saved for retirement or contributed to Social Security benefits, and because women live 79 years on average while men live 72, women retirees are poorer in retirement than men. The fact that women live longer than men means that they need more money in their retirement than men do.
    • Decision Making: The next generation of retirees may have been raised in an environment in which men handled the money decisions. More women actually pay the weekly bills, but they may have little knowledge of the larger family finances such as retirement plans, Social Security, IRAs, insurance, annuities, etc. because they may have deferred to their spouse’s decisions. It is essential for women to understand the ‘big picture’ of their finances, especially for retirement, divorce, or death of their spouse. Because women make less than men, are less prepared for retirement, and receive smaller retirement benefits, they need to make sure that their husband’s retirement benefits will pass to them if their husband dies first. Because women may be more intimidated about asking questions of their attorney or financial advisor, they may miss crucial details (such as single-life annuity which may bring higher levels during the husband’s life but that ends when the husband dies first), or incorrect beneficiaries on life insurance policies.
    • Divorce: During a divorce, women may be more concerned about custody issues and keeping the house than their future retirement and may agree to forgo the 401(k). Single parenting brings a whole host of financial challenges, including lost wages from parenting responsibilities and childcare and babysitters. If the extra expenses and possibly lower income are not included in the divorce settlement, the single mother may find that she is unable to keep the house and she loses the two most valuable assets: the house and the 401(k).
    • Health Insurance: When an employer changes to a high-deductible plan, it costs on average $1000/year more for women than for men because women’s costs are higher (mammograms, the cervical-cancer vaccine, Pap tests and pregnancy related services)
    • Care Giving: Another huge drain on women’s finances is caring for their aging parents. More women care for aging parents than men. However distasteful it may be to condense a daughter’s love for her parents into a discussion of money, this issue must be addressed so that women can prepare. Because of the aging baby-boomer population, these numbers will soon become staggering. If you add caring for young children into the mix at the same time, the financial results can be devastating.


    As a woman, I think the real problem is that we don’t ask/negotiate for more money when we are hired. After talking with my girlfriends over the years (purely anectdotal evidence) it seems we struggle with feeling we are worth more money and that we can handle the jobs we have. My male friends just don’t seem to think this way; whereas totally competant women will really invest a lot of thoughts into wondering if they can do the job. I am not sure why this is, it is just what my girlfriends and I have noticed over the years. Thankfully, talking about it with other women seems to really help. I would have never asked for more money when I was hired, but since my girls identified this problem I have always asked for more money. I was sucessful every time because I knew what the position worth on the market, and I knew my worth so I made a good case. I always looked to add value to any position. Now, I am staying at home with my 7-month old boy, and I am still looking forward to the day when I will get back in the work force. Sites like IWTYTBR are great b/c they put information out there and get women talking about something they may not have even realized they were doing. I have turned several of my friends onto this site, and I think it is good source of information.

  32. kmg

    @ Harri, the reason I reacted as I did, which you chose to construe as ad hominem, is that your first comment effectively blames women for wage discrepencies. Subsequent comments, which you yourself recognize as being valid, point out the various social forces at play here. So perhaps instead of asserting that “A major reason for the discrepancy is the fact that women _choose_ jobs which pay less, they _choose_ to work fewer hours, and they _choose_ to get out of the workforce,” thereby placing the blame solely on women who make those “choices” (which I would argue are infrequently purely “free” choices in the way you seem to imply they are), you might focus some of your attention at the macro or systemic level. That is a conversation that might be interested, rather than what sounded to me an awful lot like, “everyone would be equal if women really acted like they wanted to be.”

    P.S., Congrats on your advanced econ degree, but diploma notwithstanding, you don’t get to point to the the Scando-Finnish region as evidence that if women worked more/harder, they’d be paid equally, considering the substantial differences that exist from the ground up in gender equality when conparing that region to the U.S. Different socializations + different social and legislative responses to historic discrimination + different takes on idealized gender equity = different outcomes.

  33. Rick

    I can’t help but comment on this because I’m actually very concerned about my wife’s earnings. I am very more-pay focused. She thinks about money, but thinks more about how to save it rather than make it. I on the other hand don’t care what I spend because I work a job in which I’m very capable of pulling in a little more if needed (we’re fairly financially secure anyhow). She on the other hand has a smaller and more fixed income.

    But here’s the thing… she’ll have a PHD in 3 months. But how much money she’s going to make seems to be the farthest thing from her mind. I’m worried that she won’t ever worry about it, while I’m working 60 hrs a week to make more. I’m worried that she’ll have a PHD and pull in far less than potential just because she does not seem even think about it.

    She also worries far more about our home, family time, etc… I can’t help but think men may make a little more money because that’s what we worry about and are raised to go get it. I know I was.

  34. Rick

    I’ll throw one more thought out there. Discrimination exists everywhere. It’s very much a world where the strong survive. I’m very young looking for my age (I’m 27 and could easily pass for 20 or younger). It has been a constant struggle. I’m just now overcoming that struggle in terms of pay. It’s very hard to negotiate your pay when you’re constantly referred to as little buddy. And it kills your confidence to be treated as such. I really have no doubt that many women go through this in the workplace. But I’ve also seen strong women. And they all make more money than me.

    I’ve had to fight for raises. It’s not fun. My guess is a lot of women are in the same boat but avoid the fight.

  35. April

    “…totally competant women will really invest a lot of thoughts into wondering if they can do the job…”

    I’ve been guilty of this. I still am some days.

    “…she thinks about money, but thinks more about how to save it rather than make it.”

    Also guilty. This discussion has been very enlightening for me. I really hadn’t thought about the fact that I doubt myself when I’m perfectly qualified for the job or that my focus is more on saving than earning. No wonder I don’t negotiate my salary more! (Well, actually, I did do it when I was hired at my last job, but the employer already had a set figure, so it didn’t budge at all from that number.)

  36. mary

    I guess I am in the minority here- I work with a male co-worker who has the exact same degree that I have (we went to grad school together as a matter or fact). I make roughly 1/3 more than he does because I have additional skill sets that he does not have. Also, my boss is a man. My boss knows that money is the #1 priority to me because I have told him. I have never asked for a raise but have gotten significant ones almost every year- 5k or more. I guess he doesn’t want to lose me…

  37. mike c

    This topic has been a fun one. Thanks Ramit!

    QUOTED: “If more men would be more willing to cut work hours – and more women willing to accept a household pay cut -, perhaps we would have healthier families. Too often I read about men who work too much and never play with their kids or spend “quality time” with their wifes.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Having spent the past few years living in Japan, I’m reminded of the progress that has occurred in the American workplace during my lifetime. Quite often, Americans here compare Japan to how the USA was in the 1950s, where sexism and inequality in the workplace are rampant. Women are basically booted out of the workforce during the child-rearing years and men generally work long hours followed by “teambuilding time” at a nearby pub until all hours of the night.

    America’s feminist movement in the past half century has really shifted the workforce Stateside. Though I respect how far we’ve come on the plus side, I can’t help but feel it’s made the American “Keep up with the Joneses” mentality even more apparent. With dual income families, it’s more money for people to spend keeping up appearances.

    What I’ve come to appreciate even more is the post-feminist movement… where a growing number of families are choosing to have one parent stay home with the kids, similar to the 1950’s, but this time its more by choice and in some (albeit few) cases it’s even the fathers. To me, it’s symbolic of a push for a higher focus on family, personal growth, and enjoyment of life… which to me is the reason to work in the first place. What’s the point of working 60 hours per week for the extra money if you don’t have time to enjoy life?

  38. kmg

    @ mike c: You might enjoy the book The Two Income Trap, co-written by Elizabeth Warren (Harvard Law professor and expert on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about bankruptcy law and empirical studies) and her daughter. The book addresses the idea you describe in your second to last paragraph. It’s an easy read, but insightful. They book looks at what happened in the U.S. once a two-income family became the gold-standard, and looks at where that second income goes and why it feels so necessary now –their data says it’s not primarily a consumer lifestyle, but mostly increased health care costs and the escalating cost of having a residence in a “desirable” and “safe” school district.

    As you may have guessed from my previous comment, though, I don’t think there’s anything “post-feminist” about a culture in which the vast majority of all stay-at-home parents are women. Ever wonder why that statistical disparity exists? Until we have men embracing the role of primary at-home child care providers in the same numbers as women (and women are the primary/sole breadwinners just as frequently as men are), we’re not really “post” anything.

  39. Harri

    “As you may have guessed from my previous comment, though, I don’t think there’s anything “post-feminist” about a culture in which the vast majority of all stay-at-home parents are women. Ever wonder why that statistical disparity exists? Until we have men embracing the role of primary at-home child care providers in the same numbers as women (and women are the primary/sole breadwinners just as frequently as men are), we’re not really “post” anything.”

    I have to call you on that. It’s never going to happen. Hypergamy – the practice of women marrying men of higher social and/or economic status – didn’t slow down during feminist 80s and 90s, even among highly educated women. And the current rising popularity of a backlash and return to (more) traditional family values will certainly not erode hypergamy.

    Sure, almost all women say they wouldn’t have a problem marrying a carpenter. But to answer Johnny Cash’s related question, those same women go on and marry the stock broker, instead. And no, anecdotal evidence of your friend’s sister with a doctorate marrying the carpenter doesn’t equal data.

    Also, many women pay lip service to how desirable a “soft” caregiver man is, the reality is that only a marginal woman will actually marry such a man. Women don’t want their men to stay at home, nor do men. We have a few hundred million years of evolution behind us, and a generation of feminism isn’t going to change what women (or men) are looking for in a partner.

  40. Justin

    @kmg: I think the whole 50% thing is a very narrow way of thinking about this. You have no idea what kind of decision making process went into each of those families. You have no idea how many of the men offered, but they decided it was simply better for the women to stay at home in their situation.

    It’s not 50% you’re looking for. Setting arbitrary number targets is only a good way to fail or create resentment. Which sales person is happier, the one who is told to simply do their best every day or the one that is held up to monthly quotas? What you really want is every family viewing this as a real decision with two options, and picking the one that is best for them. If that results in 95% of the time the men keep working, then so be it.

  41. Sara

    I think “gender equality” is about equal OPPORTUNITY not numbers and percentages regarding salaries and stay-at-home parents. And I think in that sense, we have definitely come a long way since the 1950s. I don’t think there will ever be equal numbers of stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home dads, but I also don’t think that that is what is important.

    This is anecdotal, but I feel today I have the opportunity to make the same amount of money, have the same types of jobs, go to the same types of grad schools, etc, as a guy my age (and I work for a technology consulting company, where 90% of the people I work with are men) with the same credentials. Actually taking that opportunity is up to me. If I decide to get married and stay home with my children, I have given up that opportunity; however, the fact that I have the choice is what is most important.

  42. kmg

    Justin, you’re right, I don’t have ay idea what kind of decision making went on in individual families, but you’re asking me to look at the micro level when the rest of this conversation is addressing the macro level. You incorectly assume I’m trying to decree that that half of all SAHPs must be men, and half must be women. I’m not interested in dictating anyone’s choices but my own. However, *at the macro level*, all other things being equal, at we would expect to see roughly the same number of women as men staying home with children. We are not seeing that. The logical conclusion is that all other things, then, are not equal.

    @ Harri: “And no, anecdotal evidence of your friend’s sister with a doctorate marrying the carpenter doesn’t equal data.”
    There you go being pro-actively insulting again. Why? It doesn’t make you sound clever, and it doesn’t make me feel dumb. I guess my hopes for you were far too high.

  43. Barbara Saunders

    The language of “choice” irks me a little.

    I agree with those who argue that the wage gap is due, in significant part, to women’s choices rather than to discrimination. I also agree with those who argue that prejudice plays a role in steering women towards lower-paying jobs and fields and in starting negotiations at lower pay rates regardless of an individual woman’s plans.

    The more fundamental problem — there is no way to safeguard women’s “choice” without a corresponding default position that men DON’T have a choice: Men must remain obligated to play the breadwinner role unless excused from it by a woman who chooses to have a career.

    If both men and women have “choice,” then neither men nor women would have the kind of choice women now supposedly have. Every couple would have to duke it out! Getting rid of the old gender roles necessarily takes away any individual’s choice to simply force the partner into the complementary role.

  44. Karen

    Side note: For those of us who are trained in qualitative data gathering methods, what is described as anecdotal by more statistically oriented folks actually does qualify as data for us, albeit an admitedly different type of data, but useful nonetheless.

    While familiarity with one’s environment including all ltypes of challenges and discrimination is important, I believe that it is more important to have self-awareness (eg. know what you want to do, why you want to do it) and accept these challenges and figure out ways to overcome them. Changing social environments where men earn more and women less can take decades to change while changing oneself, including one’s approach, is much more managable. Also, one’s personal example can elicit those very changes one may seek in one’s environment. All of this can be achieved through persistence, building self-confidence, and developing an achievement style that is uniquely one’s own. if you have a healthy self-confidence, you’ll know what you deserve to earn and you won’t feel bad about asking for it. If you’re confident in the products you produce – which can come through especially well when you actually enjoy what you do – it’s not hard to show why you deserve to earn what you should earn.

    Smart money management is a must for anyone who has dreams and wants to achieve them. One danger of ‘gender’ discussions is that it can collapse ‘men’ and ‘women’ into two very static categories. And while many of us women have been socialized in particularly docile ways, it’s still no excuse to continue certain patterns if we recognize that they are ultimately unhealthy and/or unproductive. Everyone one of us has something unique to contribute and share but if you don’t know what that is or you don’t value it or you expect someone else to place a value on what you offer, then you will always be shortchanged.

  45. Sara

    True, it just irks me that every time a gender/feminism discussion starts, I kind of feel like the discussion doesn’t take into account individual choice and responsibility for actions. Women today have a ton more opportunity and face a lot less prejudice than they did 50 years ago. It is society’s fault more don’t take advantage of the opportunities? When does it become the individual’s responsibility to defy a stereotype?

  46. Cecily


    The practice of hypergamy is about men’s choices as much as women’s, and also speaks to what society values in men as opposed to women. For every female lawyer who would be ashamed to marry a carpenter, there is a male carpenter who is put-off by the thought of a wife who out-earns him.

    This makes sense when considering what mainstream culture considers to be a “catch” – when talking about men, it means high-status; for women, it means beautiful. Both men and women are after the “catch”. I suspect that, for most people, equal pay for equal work is an easy idea to accept; it’s much harder to give up the adolescent fantasy of marrying “the prince” or “the most beautiful girl in the world”.

    Feminist author Linda Hirschman recommends that career-minded women marry poorer men in order to maintain some power in the relationship. Hopefully in the future, a choice like this won’t be considered “marrying down”.

  47. Justin

    kmg, I notice that the only argument you made against Harri’s is turning his preemptive attack at a common type of response into a personal one. (Anecdotal arguments have a tendency to get on my nerves too.) I can see his post being seen as highly offensive to a statistical feminist, since it’s attacking your base ideology. But that’s certainly no reason to ignore its arguments.

    Now, let me state that I agree with you 100%, when you say “However, *at the macro level*, all other things being equal, at we would expect to see roughly the same number of women as men staying home with children.” But, let me say that I agree with this because it is a counter-factual implication that becomes a tautology. If the conditional were to be true, then the resulting statement would also be true. If everything was equal and independent, then simple statistics demands a 50/50 split.

    The problem with this statement is that the prerequisite will never be true. There’s biological differences that will always exist. Women simply have different base drives than men, especially when it comes to family issues (Nature vs. Nurture arguments aside). Social differences also exist. There are ideas such as the hypergamy Harri mentioned. I especially liked that point in Harri’s post, and would be interested in seeing a real reaction from you to it. (BTW, I never knew a word existed for this idea. Thanks Harri.) At another level, women also network differently then men; their social topologies are formed differently. So even if the economic issues were completely equal, there would still not be the equality necessary to complete the prerequisites of your statement.

    I also thank Sara for seeing and thinking in what I think are the correct terms. It’s not about seeing equality in action, it’s about seeing equality in opportunity, which is the point I tried to relay but which she stated more eloquently. You’re focused on a kind of false statistical equality that never has, does, nor will exist in our current physiosocioeconomical system, for the reasons mentioned above. (Whee for making up new psuedo-scientific words!)

  48. kmg

    Justin, I’ve already tried to engage Harri, and have gained nothing by it (insults? no thanks), so I don’t plan to continue just to edify you. But see Cecily, who said roughly what I would’ve. Also, you’re wrong that that’s the only argument I’ve made to Harri–you apparently missed our exchange upthread, where he decided not to respond when I called him the “choice” language he later backpedalled on. It’s just not worth it anymore.

    I disagree that women and men have different base drives–you’re not going to find a lot in support for that statement in well-controlled studies, but let me know if you find something. Yes, there are biological differences, for example breasfeeding, but those go out the window for formula-fed babies or after the child is weaned. And obviously, I agree that social differences exist, but those social differences (including “social topographies”, I like that phrase, thanks) are largely constructed or socialized. They are not, and need not, be static over time. Where they are unfair, ill-founded or (yes, I’ll say it) sexist, they can be and should be challenged. That benefits everyone. And once those underlying factors are controlled for, we should be able to expect statistical proportionality. It doesn’t exist right now, which means that a lot of the underlying factors are still fundamentally out of whack.

    As a side note, I’d refrain from trying to identify the “base ideology” of a perfect stranger. It comes off as arrogant. Thanks for being largely civil, though.

  49. Harri

    kmg, the anecdotal evidence pre-emptive strike was not directed at you. I blame the English language for the limited ability to pluralize “you.” And my point about it not being data was meant in the statistical perspective. Obviously anecdotal evidence does have value, just not (much) in the macro level. And any insults you feel that I have directed at you are purely channeling your own prejudices, as I feel I have been very objective.

    I don’t think I backpedaled on the choice debate. Doesn’t matter. The issue has been quite sufficiently covered by others and I stand by my statements.

    As for differences between sexes, I’m sure the onus is on you (kmg) to provide data to support your claim that the current social structures resulting in women nurturing babies while men bring food is a social construct instead of natural (genetic). The reason for that is that almost all (all?) societies throughout history have similar structures, and most anthropologists think a matriarchal society is a hypothetical one.

    Sara, your point about this not being about absolute or relative figures, and all about opportunities, is perhaps the best way to express how I feel. Thanks for that, I’ll definitely use that in my frequent conversations on the topic.

  50. Cecily

    I was wondering how long it would take for evolutionary/biological arguments to enter the discussion. They usually take this form:

    “Because of (highly speculative and poorly-supported theory x), this is the way things have always been, and the way they always will be.”

    To me, these arguments are a signal that the person making them is interested in defending the status quo (in this case, women earning less money and doing more unpaid household/childcare work) over social change.

    Massive societal change that seems to go against evolutionary imperatives has been seen over and over again in human history. Whence the popularity of lifelong monogamy and birth control?

  51. kmg

    Actually, I tend to believe that the burden of proof rests with those who maintain without analytical support that the way things are and have been is the way things must be in the future–Harri presents for our collective consideration one iteration of one of the greatest fallacies that history has ever known.

    To Cecily’s list, I would add that the entry of women into professions (and, in fact, the normalization of women working for pay after marriage in any group other than the most socially or economically disempowered social subgroups) is another example of social change subverting what people, primarily men, have incorrectly claimed over centuries was a biological predetermination–in this case, that women were biologically unfit for or even biologically capable of such work.

    The fact that we are now even having this debate–whether the tendency of working women to take on particular childcare tasks after becoming mothers is a biological function or a social function–is only possible because of gradual social change in the way that people perceive women’s ability and fitness to work for pay across a broad spectrum of labor. A hundred years ago, the premise on which this discussion rests would have been laughable, because “everyone knew” that based on their biology, the fairer sex were simply not capable of the intellectual rigor demanded of lawyers, scientists, or mathematicians. Obviously that argument has died out, but the certainty that women’s interests and abilities are determined by their status as women appears to live on in some quarters.

  52. g

    Choice seems to be popping up a lot here (“women do/don’t have a choice when they leave the workforce”, for example), and, perhaps fittingly, biology has also entered the picture in response.

    I would like to humbly submit the following mundane hypothesis: women often focus their energy on things that make them attractive to men and men often focus their energy on things that make them attractive to women. From this vantage point, the choices made by both sexes should reflect the values that each sex seeks in the other. To back this up, I’ll quote “The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature”:

    “The study was done by David Buss [] of the University of Michigan, who asked a large sample of American students to rank the qualities they most preferred in a mate. He found that men preferred kindness, intelligence, beauty, and youth, while women preferred kindness, intelligence, wealth, and status. He was told that this may be the case in America, but it is not a universal facet of human nature.

    “So he repeated the study in thirty-seven different samples from thirty-three countries, asking over one thousand people, and found exactly the same result. Men pay more attention to youth and beauty, women to wealth and status. To which came this answer: Of course women pay more attention
    to wealth because men control it. If women controlled wealth, they
    would not seek it in their spouses. Buss looked again and found that
    American women who make more money than the average American woman pay more attention to the wealth of potential spouses, not less.
    High-earning women value the earning capacity of their husbands more,
    not less, than low-earning women. Even a survey of fifteen powerful
    leaders of the feminist movement revealed that they wanted still more
    powerful men.”

    To those who have read studies that found something different, I would like to see them (I really mean this). But please don’t say, “I have read of studies that refute this data but can’t produce them”.

    If Buss’s study has any bearing on reality, we would expect men to be more aggressive at seeking wealth (asking for raises, seeking high-paying positions) and more likely to be willing to work long hours (in sometimes dangerous conditions) to get it. We would also expect women to expend less effort toward earning money, since men don’t care nearly so much about wealth and status in women.

    I know this is unpalatable to some, but please remember that unpalatability has no effect on the truth value of the above arguments. Remember, too, that what is natural isn’t necessarily desirable, and I am not advocating sex differences as such. Rape and murder are also natural (they’re common to every culture in the world, as far as I know, and there are good evolutionary reasons to expect this), yet nobody would advocate them as “good”.

  53. g

    Since this is a blog that focuses a lot on entrepreneurship, I’m going to describe a business plan for those who suspect that a wage gap between genders is proof of discrimination.

    I read on MSNBC that “Women make only 80 percent of the salaries their male peers do one year after college”. At first glance, this is shocking. But if this gap is due to discrimination, and not differences in skill, risk, usefulness of chosen majors, or any other non-discriminatory factor, there is actually a wonderful opportunity here. A startup that chooses to hire only women could save 20% on its employment costs compared to its competitors. Since wages usually make up the largest proportion of a firm’s expenses, this savings would be truly incredible.

    Consider a firm with revenues of $160,000 per year, wage costs of $80,000 per year, and other costs of $50,000 per year. Given these numbers, the firm’s yearly return on investment is 23% = 30,000/130,000. Now suppose the firm cut its wage costs by 20%, to $64,000 per year, by hiring only women, all else remaining equal. Yearly ROI is now 40% = 46,000/114,000, almost double what it was before!

    Even if only 10% of the wage difference is due to discrimination, starting a firm that hires only women would result in a yearly increase in ROI of 1.5%, which is, to put it mildly, a big deal in the business world. My numbers may make this opportunity look a little better than it is (try it with your own numbers), but the basic idea should be the same no matter what: a 20% or other significant savings on wages would allow any company to easily outcompete its bigoted rivals.

    So I encourage you to put your money where your mouth is. If you really think women are being discriminated against in the workforce, show the closed-minded companies their mistake by ruthlessly crushing them with this business plan.

    It is interesting to note that this business plan might work in reverse in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and a few other cities, according to this NY Times article. In these cities, there has been a gap in women’s favor since 2000.

  54. Queercents » Women and Men: Thinking Differently about Money

    […] at, a well-known personal finance blog, conducted a reader survey about gender and money. The results (served up in a 30-page SlideShare presentation) revealed some stunning differences in […]

  55. Mel

    Ah Harri, you do have your head in the sand. When one person says something, it’s their experience they are relating, when 2 people say the same something, it can be a coincidence. When so many, many people say the same thing, it isn’t a coincidence and it isn’t anecdotal. Beyond the fact that women are not “demonizing” men for the fact that we make less money than they do, there is a shift happening in our culture and it is going to take a while for things to equalize. We aren’t demonizing men for the situation, just refusing to let them turn a blind eye to it.

    During a lunch with 5 of my female friends, the only male in attendance, one of my friend’s husband, claimed that women didn’t have to prove themselves in the workplace any more than men did. The six of us turned to him as one unit and basically told him very nicely how wrong he was. Every one of us, and we were all college educated professionals making over $50K at the time had the exact same experience in the workplace and not just from our male colleagues; older, more experienced female colleagues were more likely to assume that men were more capable than we were. My friend’s husband was shocked but I think it opened his eyes.

    A short time later a friend and colleague told me that a recruiter had contacted him about a position that he wasn’t interested in but that he thought I would be. He told me the salary range the recruiter quoted him and, before I called the head-hunter, I told my friend that as soon as the recruiter found out I was a woman, I would be offered less than him. He basically told me I was dead wrong. What do you think happened? The recruiter quoted me a starting hourly wage (since I was a consultant) that was more than $10 less per hour than my male colleague with less experience both in years in the field and in knowledge/skill level.

    Explain it to me if you can. You won’t convince me and you won’t convince any other woman who has experienced it.

    Note to the female readers; use this knowledge to empower yourself, the next time that someone offers you a salary, ask yourself if it’s fair, ask yourself if you’re worth more, and then ask for it. the worst they can say is no but you won’t get anything if you don’t try.

  56. Deb

    It doesn’t help to ask for more money if you’re a woman. You will be perceived as pushy and aggressive (good in a man, very very bad in a woman). Women can either work for less or not get hired at all, those are the choices the male establishment has allowed them.

    And by the way, I have read that men lose more work time to alcoholism (anybody know a workaholic man who isn’t also a heavy drinker? I don’t!) than women do to pregnancy. And doesn’t anyone think it’s unfair that women are punished for continuing the species?

    As for waiting until you’re in your 40s to have kids, yeah that works great if you’re a guy, not so much if you’re a woman. Your fertility drops DRASTICALLY after 35 and is pretty much non-existent after 40, despite the media’s fascination with older mothers. And please show me the teenager who wants a 60-year-old mother, anyhow, it’s RIDICULOUS for women in their 40s to have babies, even if they’re lucky enough to be able to.

    The whole “career arc” is based on being male. Staying fertile till you’re 90 and with a wife who holds down the whole rest of your life (including, most often, relationships with the man’s family of origin) so you can devote yourself to that supreme god, MONEY.

    And yeah, the system also makes whores of women because frankly, whoring (also known as marraige) is always and forever the best-paid job you can get without a dick.

  57. Rachel

    Some people choose careers based on how much good they can do in the world (social work, teaching, etc). They worry about money more because they make less. I’m very thankful towards people willing to make those sacrifices.

    Second, people act like having a child or dropping out of the workforce is a bad thing–as in, it *should* hurt your salary/be a legit reason you are paid less because you took some time off. As a woman, having no children is considered being a good employee in this country–why? Why not allow women (where practical) to telecommute or work part time w/out mass penalties for having the audacity to spawn? Why is sitting at a desk 40 hours a week make you a more valuable employee than someone who works smart not long or hard? Someone who’s not in the office as much can provide things like more perspective and better ideas (see also: highly paid consultants).

    Finally, while women and men are more similar than they are different. In general women aren’t like men when it comes to negotiation. In general, women don’t have that entitled “How can I make the most money possible?” attitude. This has pluses and minuses in life but in negotiation it is not an advantageous attitude. Learning how to ask for more is matter of practice.

    I’m a female w/out kids and I make more money than most people I know. I’m thankful for that. Part of the reason for that is that I work in a male-dominated field (most of those pay well), I was trained early on and many times to negotiate, and probably a whole other host of reasons (I have 2 brothers and a ass-kicking mom). I cringe thinking that someone thinks I should be paid less because I might decide to have kids one day. Screw that!