Who’s to blame for the obvious and ultimately fixable gender gap in pay?
“Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran lays at some of it at the feed of women themselves.
“Women should pretend they’re a man, because men do negotiate better,” Corcoran recently said.
It’s tempting to take her point. She offers a shortcut to a goal, if not a model for behavior for real people. And goals matter in life.
Yet the data is mixed on maleness as a winning factor. Going all the way back to early schooling boys dominate in many group situations, researchers note, though not for necessarily the right reasons.
That kind of “get paid” attitude later shows up in all kinds of competitive professional fields. The multi-million-dollar sports contract. The massive Wall Street bonus.
It’s self-reinforcing, too. We tend to exalt celebrity and wealth, as Shark Tank itself demonstrates. If you look around that set, there are women. But it’s mostly men.
One can hope that the inexorable rise of women in colleges and universities, the wide range of female sports opportunities thanks to Title IX, and an increasing presence in the political world will turn the tide for women.
It might even change the culture outright, starting with pay, of course.
But, as I write in this week’s MarketWatch column, there’s one key area where you absolutely don’t want to “act like a man,” and that’s investing.
Study after study has shown that women are just better at it. The take less risk and they make more money.
Male investors seem to be enamored with the hunt, the endless search for the slam-dunk stock that makes them wealthy.
Nevertheless, decades of research has shown that risk management, diversification and steady contributions — not trading — is what makes ordinary investors into eventually comfortable retirees.