Career choices and the gender pay gap : The role of work preferences and attitudes

By Isabelle Bensidoun, Danièle Trancart, Catriona Dutreuilh

The gender wage gap has barely narrowed over the last two decades. This may be partly attributable to gender differences in work preferences and attitudes. Drawing on data from the “Génération 1998 à 10 ans survey” conducted by CÉREQ in France, this article examines the potential roles of career priorities, appetite for risk or optimism about future career prospects on gender wage gaps. As these factors are liable to influence wages, but also career choices, this study uses a wage gap decomposition that takes them into account. It also factors in the potentially discriminatory nature of occupational segregation. Differences in preferences and attitudes account for 6.3% of the total wage gap, nearly twice as much as experience. They also reduce the unexplained component of wage differences, which nonetheless remains large. Ten years after leaving the education system, although the gender wage gap should be just 8%, women’s wages are 21.2% below those of men.


  • gender wage gap
  • Brown-Moon and Zoloth wage decomposition
  • work preferences and attitudes
  • occupational segregation
  • discrimination
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