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Sexism Pays? Studying It Certainly Seems To

When I first noticed this study yesterday, I laughed it off. But now that it's getting a lot of media attention, I've got to join the chorus.

"Men with egalitarian attitudes about the role of women in society earn significantly less on average than men who hold more traditional views about women's place in the world, according to a study being reported today," the Washington Post reports.

That's the bad news for us egalitarian types. Over-testosteroned, burly, high-powered corporate men earn big money, and sensitive Birkenstockers with long hair and tattered jeans who treat their women as partners, rather than servants, earn considerably less. At least that's how the results of the study hit me.

And then the next question I asked myself was, who cares? And why would anyone waste their time and money to produce a study that, on one level at least, reinforces the obvious? Good ol' boys earn more money because they're, well, good ol' boys. They form their own corporate and social networks and hire each other because they are like each other.

The Post continues:

The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, is based on information collected by a federal government survey over a quarter-century. The Labor Department's National Longitudinal Survey of Youth began tracking 12,000 people in 1979 when they were 14 to 22 years old. The survey participants are now 43 to 51 years old.

Because many participants in the survey were children when it started, incomes for men and women changed dramatically over the 25 years that Livingston and co-author Timothy Judge studied. Averaged over the quarter-century, salaries ranged from $34,725 for working men with traditional attitudes to $20,321 for working women with traditional attitudes. Working men with egalitarian attitudes made $22,795 on average, while working women with egalitarian attitudes made $21,373.

Remember Sen. William Proxmire and his Golden Fleece Awards? The Wisconsin Democrat made a career, and a colorful one at that, providing monthly examples of ridiculous government spending programs.

The authors of this study work at the University of Florida, and the Post piece does not explain whence the funding for the study came. One of the coauthors posited the study's rationale as follows: "It is the first time social scientists have produced evidence that large numbers of men might be victims of gender-related income disparities."

By Bonnie Erbe