Working time flexibility, personality traits and gender pay gap - summing up the project with the National Science Centre

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Why are women paid less than men, even if they work in the same place, in the same occupation, and have equal educational attainment? What are the gender norms that define our professional life decisions? These are the issues we have focused on for the last four years.

The sources of the gender pay gap continue to attract attention from policymakers and researchers. Several papers have investigated the reasons behind the pay differences among men and women, though new potential explanations arise. One of these explanations focuses on working time flexibility – the possibility to decide on the schedule of one’s work hours, but also as a necessity to be available on employer’s demand. It is often believed that women choose workplaces and occupations that offer more flexibility concerning working time to help them balance work and family because of their roles as care providers.

Are women more likely than men to decide on their work hours? Is working time flexibility indeed higher in female-dominated occupations?

 

Overall, women in Europe are less likely than men to enjoy working time flexibility but are at the same time less likely to be asked to change their schedules unexpectedly. Mothers and fathers are more likely to have access to flexible working time than childless colleagues. However, fathers’ workplaces are more likely to demand temporal flexibility, which is not the case for mothers. We also find that working in a female-dominated occupation decreases the probability of having access to flexible working time arrangements, and this effect is more substantial for women. At the same time, both men and women working in female-dominated occupations are less exposed to flexibility demands from employers. Finally, we find that Central and Eastern European labour markets offer the lowest working time flexibility to women particularly and offer no parenthood privileges in this respect. Continental and Nordic countries contrast these, offering more flexible working time arrangements with no gender gap.

 

The second crucial part of our research focused on gender inequality and gender norms. We find that households, where the woman contributes more to the total household income are more likely to share housework equally. We also find that individual gender norms matter for women’s involvement in unpaid work at home and the observed link between the female share of income and inequality between the partners in the division of housework. Women from less traditional households are more likely to share housework equally. However, this negative relationship between the female share of household income and female involvement in housework is not observed among more traditional couples.

 

Another potential source of the gender pay gap analysed in the project was cognitive skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and personality traits. Our results show that personality traits play a significant role in wage determination, not only as separate factors that influence wages but also as complements to cognitive skills. The more emotionally stable an individual is, the higher their return to cognitive skills. The relationships between cognitive skills, personality traits, and wages are the same among women and men.

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