EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Sexism at work

Björn Erikssoon, Tobias Karlsson, Tim Leunig () and Maria Stanfors

CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance from Centre for Economic Performance, LSE

Abstract: Women have, on average, been less well-paid than men throughout history. Prior to 1900, most economic historians see the gender wage gap as a reflection of men's greater strength and correspondingly higher productivity. This paper investigates the gender wage gap in cigar making around 1900. Strength was rarely an issue, but the gender wage gap was large. Two findings suggest that employers were not sexist. First, differences in earnings by gender for workers paid piece rates can be fully explained by differences in experience and other productivity-related characteristics. Second, conditioning on those characteristics, women were just as likely to be promoted to the better paying piece rate section. Neither finding is compatible with a simple model of sex-based discrimination. Instead, the gender wage gap can be decomposed into two components. First, women were typically less experienced, in an industry in which experience mattered. Second there were some jobs that required strength, for which men were better suited. Because strength was so valuable in the other jobs at this time, men commanded a wage premium in the general labour market, raising their reservation wage. Hiring a man required the firm to pay a 'man's wage'. This implies that firms that were slow to feminise their time rate workforce ended up with a higher cost structure than those that made the transition more quickly. We show that firms with a higher proportion of women in their workforce in 1863 were indeed more likely to survive 35 years later.

Keywords: gender; productivity; discrimination; piece-rates; time-rates; labour markets; firm survival (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J16 J24 J71 J33 J40 L25 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem, nep-his, nep-hrm and nep-lab
References: Add references at CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/cp385.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:cep:cepcnp:385

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance from Centre for Economic Performance, LSE
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

 
Page updated 2020-10-26
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepcnp:385