Research by Columbia Business School
The gender wage gap is a well-documented, persistent, and worldwide phenomenon wherein women earn (on average) an estimated 9 to 18 percent less than men who have the same job descriptions and equivalent education and experience. After a steady decline that began in the 1970s, the gap has remained constant since the early 1990s.
Remarkably, the gap persists even in otherwise highly egalitarian nations like Denmark. Despite its well-deserved reputation for egalitarianism in both the public and private sectors - particularly when it comes to questions of gender equity - Denmark has not been able to overcome the virtually universal phenomenon that is the gender wage gap.
That Denmark experiences wage inequities comparable to other countries made it an ideal setting to study the wage gap. Professor David Gaddis Ross and his co-researchers found that, indeed, a short time after male CEOs had daughters, women's wages rose relative to men's, shrinking the gender wage gap at their firms. The birth of a son, in contrast, had no effect on the wage gap.
The researchers also found that these effects were strongest at firms with 50 or fewer employees, which they attribute to the fact that CEOs at smaller firms are typically more directly involved in making decisions that affect the pay of individual workers than CEOs at much larger firms.
While the researchers did not directly observe the subjects of their study, the research design does point to a causal relationship between the gender of a male CEO's children and the gender wage gap at his firm. "There is something about a female child," Ross says, "that makes these issues more salient to male CEOs."