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4 Reasons Why Males Earn greater incomes than Females

Updated on October 16, 2014

Equal Employment opportunity policies

In many western countries, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against job applicants on the basis of sex or gender. Yet, it is not a secret that generally speaking, males are paid better than their female counterparts. If you have ever had to search for a job, you have probably come across some version of the phrase “…does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical or mental ability, veteran status, military obligations, and marital status.” Essentially this implies that all job applicants are given an equal opportunity for employment and will not be placed at a disadvantage based on any of these attributes. Despite the implementation of several workplace policies in this regard, we still see a situation where male compensation packages are obviously heftier and more attractive than those of females. This brings the question of gender discrimination up for scrutiny. Why are males paid better than females? Here are 4 not so obvious reasons:

  • Men ask for larger salary packages than women do

I speak from experience when I say that men generally negotiate better compensation packages than women do. When I just started on the job scene some years ago, I remember attending a career fair at my university along with 4 other colleagues – 3 females and 1 male. As new job seekers, we were all very nervous and anxious about the whole job application process but we each did our best at the interviews under the circumstances. As recommended, we had thoroughly researched industry salaries and came armed with salary information. Following the interviews, while discussing how our individual interviews went, I was surprised to learn than while myself and the other females kept our salary requests on the lower end of the salary scale, our male colleague requested a salary that was 30% higher than what we had requested! At the time, I thought he was just being greedy but I have come to realize that it really is a gender issue.

A Harvard Business Review article attests to the fact that the salaries of recently graduated MBA male students of Mellon University were at least 7% higher than their female counterparts. This same study pointed to the fact that of every 100 male applicants interviewed, 57 negotiated for larger salary packages compared to only 7 of every 100 female applicants. This is a general finding. Just blame it on the fact that females are generally socialized not to be too pushy by asking for too much but to be lady like and to accept anything that may be considered reasonable. Males on the other hand, are encouraged to ask for what they are worth.

Men are better salary negotiators
Men are better salary negotiators | Source
  • Men choose higher paying careers than women do

Have you ever wondered why your general practitioner/doctor is more likely to be a male and the nurses that work with him are more likely to be females? Studies show that the medical profession occupies 8 of the 10 spaces on the top 10 list of best paying jobs for 2014. While nurses work in the healthcare industry, they are not generally classified as medical professionals. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirms that the medical profession is dominated by men. However, for the UK, it is expected that by 2017, females will outnumber the males that are employed in the medical profession.

Top 10 Best Paying Jobs for 2014

Job Title
Average Annual Salary (US$)
1. Surgeon
2. General Practitioner
3. Psychiatrist
4. Orthodontist
5. Dentist
6. Petroleum Engineer
7. Air Traffic Controller
8. Pharmacist
9. Podiatrist
10. Attorney
Top 10 Best Paying Jobs for 2014 Source: Forbes Magazine
  • Men are willing to take greater financial risks

What does taking risks have to do with men being paid more than women? In a word, everything! Take an example. Suppose that I offered to pay you $20 to jump off the top of a 7 storey building. Would you do it? I thought so. What if I were willing to pay you $100 would you do it? Ok, suppose I was prepared to pay you $10,000 to jump off the building, would you forget about the possibility of breaking all your bones, throw caution to the wind and do it? You get the picture. The more risk I am willing to take on, the more I have to be compensated to take on that risk. It is the same with earning an income. Men are more willing to take on the bigger risks in order to earn the bigger incomes. Taking on any type of business adventure is a risk. Self-employed business owners have higher net worths than employees because of the added risk that they are willing to take on in order to get that wealth. If you check out Forbes magazine’s 2014 list of the 10 wealthiest persons in the world, you will realize that all the positions are held by men with the exception of the number 9 position which is held by Christy Walton. Furthermore, Christy Walton’s wealth was inherited from her late husband John Walton, who was the son of Walmart’s Sam Walton.

  • Men are expected to earn more than women earn

No matter how we may try to evade the issue, the fact is that the society expects men to earn more than women do. Call it self fulfilling prophecy for want of a better explanation. Because this is the general expectation, it follows that employers are willing to offer more to men than to women. Men are also more likely to do what it takes to earn more in order to fill their roles as the main breadwinners in society. There are still some who believe that the woman’s place is in the home and that men are responsible for earning enough to support themselves and their families. It may even go as far back as bible days where the bible says that a man that does not take care of his own (financially) is worse than an infidel. No man wants to be labeled as an infidel so men are prepared to do what it takes to escape that perception and label.

Men outnumber women for the top paying positions
Men outnumber women for the top paying positions | Source

Blame it on Self Discrimination rather than Employer Discrimination

The fact that men are paid more than women is therefore not necessarily due to discrimination but rather more likely to be due to self discrimination on the part of females.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Do you believe than men and women with equal experience and qualifications should be paid the same salary?

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    • Keesha Metcalfe profile image

      Keesha Metcalfe 3 years ago from The Beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica

      Thanks for your feedback minecraft782. Women still tend to self discriminate. As soon as we stop doing that, we just may earn as much as or even more than our male counterparts!

    • minecraft782 profile image

      minecraft782 3 years ago

      Interesting article! Hopefully there'll be more equality when it comes to pay in the future.