Does Feminism
Discriminate Against Men?
A Debate

Ch. 8) Why Men Earn More Discrimination? Choices?

Excerpts from Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? A debate by Warren Farrell

“Women who have never been married and never had children earn 117% of their male counterparts.”

There is no single issue that bothers women in the workplace more than the belief they get paid less than men for the same work.[i] And for many women, the psychological damage of being undervalued hurts even more than the economic damage of being underpaid.

For these reasons, when I was on the Board of the National Organization for Women in New York City in the seventies, I led protests against what I felt was the discrimination the pay gap reflected. And now, since my wife and two daughters (both in college) work, discrimination against women is discrimination against me.

But one question haunted me. “If an employer has to pay a man one dollar for the same work a woman would do for 76 cents, why would anyone hire a man?” If women do produce more for less, I thought, women who own their own businesses would earn more than male business owners. So I checked. I found that women who own their own businesses earn only 49% of their male counterparts.[ii]

Are women less effective? No. When the Rochester Institute of Technology surveyed business owners with MBAs, they discovered money was the primary motivator for only 29% of the women, vs. 76% of the men.[iii] Women prioritize flexibility, fulfillment, autonomy and safety. Women aren’t less effective; they have different priorities.

After more than a decade researching this for my book, Why Men Earn More, I discovered 25 of these differences in men and women’s work-life choices. All 25 choices lead to men earning more money, but women having better lives (e.g., more time with family and friends).

I was learning that the road to high pay is a toll road. Real power is about having a better life. The male definition of power-- feeling obligated to earn money someone else spends while he dies sooner--is not real power.

Operationalizing real power involves discovering which tolls are worth paying. For example, the average full-time working man works at least three more hours per week than the average full-time working woman. Extra hours pay disproportionately. People who work 45 hours per week earn more than twice the pay than people who work 35 hours per week (132% more pay for 28% more time).[iv] Is the trade-off worth it? Real power includes properly assessing trade-offs—assessing your family’s needs, your talents, your passion, what different careers pay, and your values.

If the first piece of good news for women is that they are doing a better job assessing trade-offs than men, the implication is that men have more to learn from women than women have to learn from men.

There is a second piece of good news for women: it appears women now earn more than men when they make the same 25 choices (e.g., a male and female civil engineer both with their company 10 years, both traveling and relocating equally, risking equal hazards, working equally egregious weekends...) Even part-time working women who work equal hours to men average higher earnings.[v]

If this is true, then when women and men make similar choices, does the pay gap either disappear or get reversed? Yes. For example, women who have never been married and who have never had children earn 117% of their male counterparts.[vi] (This controls for education, hours worked and age.)

Why? Without husbands, women have to focus on earning more (longer hours, moving, traveling, fields in technology). Without children, men are freer to earn less—that is, they are freer to pursue fulfilling careers (e.g., teaching writing or art) which tend to pay less because the supply exceeds the demand. The supply exceeds the demand exactly because they are more fulfilling.

See if you can find in any text in any other women’s studies or gender studies class, a list of fields in which women are paid more. In Why Men Earn More, you’ll see 39 of the major fields in which women are paid at least 5% more than men—out of the more than 80 fields that exist like this…


[i] Carol Klieman, Chicago Tribune, reprinted as “Closing Wage Gap for Women May Depend on a Little Research,” in San Diego Union-Tribune, September 29, 1997.

[ii] U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Statistics of Income Division. Unpublished tables E2-1; E2-3 ; E3-1; and E3-. Data provided by Dr. Ying Lowry, an economist at the Small Business Administration.

[iii] Richard DeMartino, Ph.D and Robert Barbato Ph.D “Gender Differences Among MBA Entrepreneurs” Rochester Institute of Technology. United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 2001.Table 7. See

[iv] US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, unpublished data for 2005 from the Current Population Survey, p. 110, Table A-18, "Usual Weekly Earnings of Employed Wage and Salary Workers by Hours Usually Worked on Primary Job and Sex, 2002 Annual Averages." Data provided by Mr. Howard Hayghe, Economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics: (202) 691-6380. The average worker working 35 hours per week earns $384; the average worker working 45 hours per week earns $894.


Hours Worked
Median Wkly Earnings (2005)

[v] U.S. Bureau of the Census, unpublished data from Employment and Earnings, Table D-20, “Median weekly earnings of part-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics.”

[vi] U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2001 Panel, Wave 2.

© 2010, Warren Farrell (with Steven Svoboda) vs. James P. Sterba

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Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim. - Betty Friedan

Warren Farrell, Ph.D., is the author of numerous international best-sellers on men and women, including Why Men Are The Way They Are and The Myth of Male Power. Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and Father and Child Reunion has led to Dr. Farrell doing expert witness work that has encouraged many judges to keep dads in children’s lives. Dr. Farrell’s released Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It in 2005 and Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? A debate in 2008.

Warren is the only man in the US ever elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City. He has been chosen by The Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders, is in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who in the World. He has taught in five disciplines, most recently at the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego, and is ranked by the International Biographic Centre of London as one of the world’s top 2000 scholars of the Twentieth Century. He has appeared on over 1,000 TV shows worldwide and lives in Mill Valley, California with his wife and two daughters.You can visit him at or E-Mail

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