In a NY Times Economix blog, Nancy Folbre, UMass Amherst economics professor, examines research that seems to discredit the conventional economic theory that people’s pay is linked strongly to what they conribute to society. There is reason to believe that pay differences among individuals, including between men and women, may be tied to differences in personality, preferences and principles as much as productivity.
Men score significantly higher than women on Machiavellianism and aggressiveness, which may help explain why 15 times as many men as women were in prison in 2008.
These traits also have significant consequences in the labor market. Research suggests that women are less Machiavellian, more agreeable and more altruistic than men, with negative consequences for their earnings.
These personality traits may impair women’s success in bargaining for higher pay. It’s hard to believe that they lower women’s overall contribution to society.