We often hear statistics about how men and women doing the same jobs aren’t paid the same. I’ve heard that women make anywhere from 60% to 90% of what men make. I don't trust these figures because the people who quote them often have axes to grind, but I do believe that a gap exists. I don’t think this gap is likely to close completely any time soon.
The reason for this gap is usually attributed to sexism. I don’t know how much of a problem this is today but it definitely was a problem in the past. See a job posting from one of my father’s job searches back in the 1964. However, I think there is another reason why women doing the same job as men get paid less, on average.
I could have been paid much more in my career if I had devoted more energy to it. If I had worked more and spent less time with my wife and sons, my income would have been higher. I consistently made choices favouring a balanced life rather than devoting myself completely to my work. More than once I turned down a promotion that I knew would require more work and travel. I don’t regret these choices, but they did cost me money.
Just to simplify the discussion, let’s divide the world into two categories of people: (1) those who are driven and consistently sacrifice their personal lives for work, and (2) those who are balanced and consistently seek a rich personal life at the expense of workplace success.
I think most people belong to the balanced category, including me. There is little doubt that driven people make more money than balanced people, on average, even when they are in the same careers. In my limited experience, most driven people are men. I have met women who are driven, but they are significantly outnumbered by driven men.
It stands to reason that men will make more money than women, on average, because of the driven men messing up the averages. Quite frankly, I think women are smarter for more often choosing a balanced life over a life devoted solely to work, but the downside of this choice is a lower income.
I have nothing against driven people. They pay a lot of taxes and create jobs for the rest of us. But I’m happy to count myself among those who make less than they could make but have a rich personal life.