'Does it feel right for a woman to earn more than a man?' poll

Former_MSE_Lee Posts: 343 Forumite
edited 6 December 2011 at 7:25PM in MoneySaving polls
Poll started 06 December 2011, click here to vote

Does it feel right for a woman to earn more than a man?

A hundred years ago, men were the main breadwinners, now it often takes two. Yet how far have attitudes changed?

For a straight couple, which of the following's closest to your view?

I'm a man

I'd prefer if I were the only wage earner
It'd be very uncomfortable if she earned more
I'd prefer if I earned more, but I wouldn't worry
It'd never cross my mind either way
I'd prefer if she earned more
I'd prefer if she were the only wage earner

I'm a woman

I’d prefer if he were the only wage earner
It'd be very uncomfortable if I earned more
I'd prefer if he earned more, but I wouldn't worry
It'd never cross my mind either way
I'd prefer to be the bigger earner
I'd happily be the only wage earner

This doesn’t apply to me

Click reply to discuss


  • System
    System Posts: 178,071
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    TBH it never crossed my mind.

    I would think that if I had problems about my wife earning more than me then I would probably have hang-ups about having a female boss as well (another woman earning more than me)
  • I'm female, and my boyfriend earns slightly more than me, but it certainly doesn't bother me that he earns more and it wouldn't bother me if he earned less than I did. That said though I wasn't happy when he was the only wage earner earlier this year during a brief period of my being unemployed, but that was more about wanting to go out and earn my own money and not feel bored stuck in the house all day rather than feeling like he was in control of everything or anything like that - he wasn't giving me 'pin money' or that kind of thing for example.

    Interesting to see that so far (after only about 23 votes mind) that women aren't bothered but men would prefer to earn more...
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  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
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    Money Saving Expert
    edited 6 December 2011 at 1:26PM
    A few people have asked "why are the questions worded differently" and "why is there a it doesnt' apply to me option"

    We actually had a lot of discussion on the wording of this poll. So let me take the two seperately.

    1. The 'why is there are doesnt' apply to me' option.

    There are of course many same sex couples, where by definition there is no gender difference. This is why we phrased the question 'straight couple' rather than 'couple'. We did try to work out whether having done that we should have the 'doesn't apply to me' and in the end decided on balance to do that - so that everyone couple at least have an option that fits.

    This option also suits those who have never been in a relationship and may not have a view on the answer yet.

    2. Why are the questions worded differently

    We've tried to have the gender options mirror as accurately as we could (again long discussions over this). The key is we're testing attitudes to the age old "the man should earn more" idea to see if its gone.

    That's a very different question to "would you feel bad if your partner earned more".

    Due to that we've had to phrase it slighly differently for men and women. Yet there are identical options which mean the same for both.

    Hope this makes sense.

    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • wozearly
    wozearly Posts: 202
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    !!!!!! wrote: »
    TBH it never crossed my mind.

    I would think that if I had problems about my wife earning more than me then I would probably have hang-ups about having a female boss as well (another woman earning more than me)

    I fell into the "prefer it if I'd earn more, but not that worried" category - and, if I'm honest, that's down to what I perceive as the social expectation / stereotype that the guy should be expected to pull in the greater wage. I'd ideally like to meet it to avoid any potential negative perceptions from other people (not least my partern's mother, who is very much in the "men should earn more and pay for everything for the girl" camp) but if my partner was earning more than me, it wouldn't be the end of the world at all. I'd be happy for her, and damn proud to be with someone more successful than me. ;)

    My preferences on earning more are something that I only apply to me personally and not to women in general. I've spent more time working for female bosses than male bosses and have never begrudged being paid less than them, or the times when I've been paid less than a female co-worker doing a very similar job.

    Also, for the majority of my time growing up, it was my mum who was the main wage earner rather than my dad. So I've not exactly learned the age-old stereotype through personal experience.

    However, I don't think society has the ground rules right to eliminate the perception that men are (and should be) main earners. Maternity/paternity leave and expectations are still woefully imbalanced, baby changing facilities are still generally attached to womens' restrooms rather than mens' (or being in a separate room altogether) and a man announcing he's stopping work to look after young children is more likely to be met with raised eyebrows than a woman would be...

    Courts tend to take the mother's side more than not in disputes over where children will live in the event of family breakdown, men working or caring for young children are more likely to be considered potentially suspicious...

    I could go on, but suffice to say that earnings are only one part of the overall reinforcement of the "man is breadwinner, woman is homemaker" stereotype - and to truly get them equal, I think all the parts need to be fixed.
  • My wife earned more than me for 35 years and still has a greater income from her pension. It has never bothered either of us, all going into the same pot since the day we married.
  • I prefer to earn more - and I do, but only by about £200 a month now. Although we have a joint bank account, I make most of the financial decisions and ensure all the bills are paid. I'm proud that I studied to learn a trade and can use my skills to earn a decent living. When I was a SAHM I hated not having my own money and did a few little odd jobs like cleaning to ensure I had some money I could call my own. I guess I got this from my mum, a very strong, independent woman.
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  • VfM4meplse
    VfM4meplse Posts: 34,269
    Combo Breaker First Post I've been Money Tipped!
    Well I'm happy to be non-pc... I have no interest in a man who either earns less than me, or does not have the potential to earn more in the long run. The reason is simple, I don't want to have to return to work after giving birth because it would destabilise our financial position if I didn't. Who wants to have to keep a man full stop, let alone at the pastoral expense of their child?? So men should man up and understand this legitimate concern.

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

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  • Oldernotwiser
    Oldernotwiser Posts: 37,425 Forumite
    While you're doing such a ridiculous survey, perhaps you'd also like to do a parallel one with the question,

    "Does it feel right for a black person to earn more than a white?"
  • torbrex
    torbrex Posts: 71,340
    Combo Breaker First Post Rampant Recycler Hung up my suit!
    I am not part of a couple so I cant really take part in this weeks poll.
    I am male and 52 and to be honest, I have never given the matter any thought, if people do the same job they should earn the same wages and if someone is doing a slightly different job to me requiring a different skill level then they should be getting paid accordingly no matter what sex they are.
  • Thanks Martin for thinking about those of us who aren't in heterosexual relationships :beer:
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