There has been significant discussion in recent years about the reasons that women receive less pay than men do. Some argue it’s because they’re not as committed or competent as men are, others argue it’s an artifact of discrimination against women.
I’m always looking for simplicity in things, and I think I may have an obvious answer that’s been overlooked.
Testosterone. And not just testosterone, but specifically testosterone during salary negotiations.
Why would that matter? And why is this not just another pseudo-science hall pass for discrimination?
Good question, and here’s the answer:
- What you earn largely comes down to what you demand to earn
- What you demand is largely affected by your self-worth
- Men are far more likely to have and convey an overblown self-worth
- This leads to them being paid more
And what is the cause for all this posturing and self-indulgence?
It makes men take extraordinary risks when around women, it causes them to do stupid things that ruin their careers (Clinton, Woods, Weiner, Patreus, etc.), and it causes them to think far too much of themselves while doing it.
In sum, interviews and salary negotiations reward arrogant people with overly inflated views of their own self worth. They punish people who are humble and matter-of-fact about their capabilities.
As a result, more men go into salary negotiations asking for lots of money, and then proceed to gorilla their way through proving they deserve it.
I would guess that this is the biggest reason men make more money than women. Their silly biology, combined with the ridiculous, performance-like nature of interviews and salary negotiations, combine to favor men.
This isn’t the only reason men are paid more, but it’s likely one of them.
- There are many situations where differences in pay aren’t related to how well someone negotiates or promotes themselves. In those cases the other factors leading to pay differences become more important.