Survey: Almost 50% of men think the pay gap is ‘made up’

When asked the biggest reasons for the gender pay gap, 43% of men cite “unconscious bias,” and 36% blamed “sexism.”

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Despite a mountain of evidence proving a gender pay gap where women make 81 cents to men’s dollar, nearly half of men believe it’s invented. A new poll of 8,566 Americans by SurveyMonkey, revealed by TIME, shows that there’s a “belief gap” on top of the pay gap.

A stunning 46% of men think the gender pay gap is “made up to serve a political purpose.” Moreover, 31% of men see media coverage of the page gap as “overblown,” and 21% go so far to call it “fake news.”


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Out of all Americans, 62% recognize that there’s a gender pay gap, but that’s down from polls from the last two years.

Amongst groups that are not female, misconceptions abound. The groups most likely to believe (incorrectly) that men and women are paid equally for similar jobs are men and younger Americans.

Almost half (47%) of Americans think that the obstacles standing in the way of women and success are gone. Out of the men, the number goes up to 58%.

When asked the biggest reasons for the gender pay gap, 43% of men cite “unconscious bias,” and 36% said “sexism.” And 34% of men, as well as 29% of women, agreed that “women are generally in carers that don’t pay as much.”

While 60% of the general population found the pay gap “very unfair,” only 48% of men did.

Interestingly, men were much more hopeful than women that the pay gap would be erased. Nearly 75% of men thought men and women would get paid the same for similar work in their lifetime, while only 52% of women did.

Overall, people thought (54%) the government should do more to close the pay gap, and that companies should (73%) as well.

Results on the specific ways they would do so were tepid, however. Only 54% wanted companies to share gender and pay information with the government, and 52% thought companies sharing gender and pay information online to the public would be helpful. Another 52% thought it would be helpful to ban employers from asking potential employees about previous pay. None of these results showed strong feelings.

When respondents were asked about their own workplaces, more blind sports were revealed: only 24% thought men made more money than women, and 22% thought men had more opportunities to get ahead. (When broken down by gender, however, women rated men’s advantages higher).

And forget pay transparency – 45% of both sexes would not be willing to share their compensation, citing it as generally “unprofessional.”


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Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.