How Sexist Men Profit

Women with traditional attitudes may feel less comfortable in the workforce, and thus, tend toward fields that are dominated by women, generally with lower incomes, the study says. Men with traditional values are more likely to move into fields dominated by men, and thus, better paying. It's the old wage gap at work again, which narrowed for a while, but now appears to be widening again, the study notes.

The researchers suggest that gender attitudes run deep in our society.

"A traditional gender role orientation reinforces the social norm that a woman's place is in the home," the study says. "Thus, working women with traditional gender role orientations are likely to believe their true devotion should not be to their work, but to home."

Even if "traditional" women do work, their income is often regarded as "peripheral," because it's the husband's job that is considered more important. Thus, they are content to work for less in female-dominated fields, bringing down the income for "egalitarian" women in the same field, according to the study.

Conversely, traditional men regard themselves as breadwinners, so they work hard and expect to be rewarded accordingly, and that, the researchers conclude, "evokes behaviors that bring about that very outcome." It's a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you're the man, you'd better prove it, and one way to do that is to bring home a fat paycheck.

The researchers say the effect of gender attitudes on income has been largely overlooked. And they concede that those attitudes are changing.

"When workers' attitudes become more traditional, women's earnings relative to men suffer greatly," Judge said in releasing the study. "When attitudes become more egalitarian, the pay gap nearly disappears."

So, if this study is on target, it's not just what you do for a living that determines your income. It's also what you think about your gender.

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