Workplace Culture

Flex Work’s Potential Role in Gender Pay Gap

By Max Mihelich

Mar. 9, 2014

As women continue the struggle for equal pay, one Harvard University economist suggests greater flex-work opportunities could aid their cause.

“The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might even vanish if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who worked long hours and who worked particular hours,” wrote Harvard economist Claudia Goldin in her recent report, “A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter.”

Current numbers show that, on average, a woman earns 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. 

Goldin found that men and women begin employment with fairly similar earnings, but gender disparities in payment levels develop soon afterward. The gap widens yet again when workers enter their 40s.

Pigs Blue and PinkNot surprisingly, one explanation offered is that young children reduce the participation of women in the workforce. Women with children work 24 percent fewer hours per week than men or women without children, the report shows.

However, young children have a lesser effect on women who work in the technology industry, which is generally associated with greater gender equality in earnings than other industries, according to the report. This is in part explained by more willingness among tech industry companies to let their employees work part time or to work more flexibly. 

“Total hours worked are generally a good metric for time on the job,” Goldin wrote. “But often what counts are the particular hours worked. The employee who is around when others are as well may be rewarded more than the employee who leaves at 11 a.m. for two hours but is hard at work for two additional hours in the evening.”

Max Mihelich is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email Follow Mihelich on Twitter at @workforcemax.

Max Mihelich is a writer in the Chicago area.

What’s New at

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

Workplace productivity statistics and trends you need to know

Summary There was a 2.4% decrease in productivity in Q2 2022 – the largest decline since the U.S. Burea...

productivity, statistics, trends, workplace

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

5 lunch break statistics that shed light on American work culture

Summary Research shows how taking lunch breaks enhances employee engagement and productivity. Despite t...

lunch breaks, scheduling, statistics

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

6 Things Leadership can do to Prevent Nurse Burnout

Summary Nurse burnout is a serious issue in the healthcare business and has several negative consequenc...

burnout, Healthcare, hospitals, nurses