High school graduates know that the gender pay gap exists. Nevertheless, they underestimate the size of the wage gap to their male colleagues.
There is still no equality between women and men, according to experts such as masculinity researcher Rolf Pohl. Again and again there are steps backwards and counter-movements, he says and explains in an interview what this has to do with the “crisis of masculinity”. One area in which the gap between the sexes is still visible today is the “gender pay gap”, i.e. the wage difference between men and women, which will be 18 percent in 2022 according to the Federal Statistical Office.
A new study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) examined whether young women already expect this difference in income. She comes to the sad conclusion that high school graduates do expect a “gender pay gap” – only in reality it is even a bit larger.
Gender Pay Gap: Female high school graduates expect to earn around 16 percent less
The study, which was published in October 2022, is based on data from the Berlin University Admissions Panel (Best Up) and surveyed 308 women and 205 men in 2014. It came to the conclusion: Female high school graduates assume that by the age of 35 in a full-time job (with a university degree) will earn around 16 percent less than their male colleagues. On average, they expect a monthly net salary of 3153 euros, while men expect 3740 euros.
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) , women with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of only 2070 euros at this age (at least at the time the survey was carried out). The surveyed high school graduates still calculated their “gender pay gap” to be smaller than it ultimately is.
According to the authors of the study, the fact that women start their working life with low expectations is due to the expected family obligations – the “gender care gap”. Women still do more care work than men. It is particularly bitter that even women who earn more than their husbands do more housework.
Expecting to earn less doesn’t exactly help in salary negotiations
“The fact that women and men have different expectations of their future income may not appear to be a problem at first glance – but the opposite is the case: if women enter into salary negotiations with low expectations, for example, they may actually get a lower salary.”
The gender gap in income expectations therefore contributes negatively to the actual gender pay gap, explains DIW economist Andreas Leibing. This phenomenon could also be explained with another gap: the “gender confidence gap”, which could also be responsible for the lack of women in quiz shows.
The authors of the study conclude that if politicians want to reduce the gender pay gap in the long term, they must also focus on the income expectations of young people. The compatibility of work and family must be significantly improved in the course. This included the expansion of child day care, especially in the area of all-day offers, and incentives for a fair distribution of parental leave. In addition, it is important to have more women in management positions who could be role models for young women.
More on gender gaps? Here we explain what the Gender Data Gap is.