We know the wage gap is real — whether or not you believe in it. What we didn't know, though, was how we feel about said wage gap could be contributing to it.
According to PsyPost, research from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom found that women’s pessimistic feelings about the gender pay gap may ultimately be contributing to its refusal to close.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, is based upon responses from the British Household Panel Survey, a survey about people’s salary expectations in the workplace. It found that women have a tendency to underestimate their earnings prospects, while men consistently overestimate theirs in comparison.
As a result, women felt little inclination to push for higher wages, seek a promotion, or even look for a new job at a better salary because essentially their low expectations have already been met — even if disappointingly so. Men, on the other hand, tend to react to any salary disappointment with attempts to engineer a raise or by finding a new job altogether.
Lest you think this study puts the burden of change entirely on women, Dr. Chris Dawson, senior lecturer in business economics at the University of Bath’s School of Management and one of the study’s researchers, says that is simply not the case.
His study "has serious implications for policy that is trying to address the gender pay gap and suggests more needs to be done to actively advance women at work, without relying on them to self-select for promotion and senior opportunities," he explained via press release. "The takeaway message of this research is not about putting the responsibility on women, but recognizing that without policy measures to address this, we run the risk of never closing the gender pay gap."
Something the hundreds of thousands of women who united for the recent Day Without Women strike are committed to seeing happen. If you're looking for a bright spot in the fight for equal pay, you may want to head to Iceland, where new legislation has been introduced that would require employers to show proof that they’re offering equal pay for equal work.