Gender gaps: Are all men created equal?

For every Euro a man earns in Germany, a woman earns 81 Cent (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2020). This number is referred to as the gender pay gap. This inequality between men and women is by no means limited to earnings. A gender gap is reflected in many dimensions of life: the gender education gap, the gender childcare gap, gender gaps in economic preferences and psychological attributes, and many more. Some of those gender gaps cause the gender pay gap, while others may point towards different gender norms created by society (or a combination of both). Although different gender gaps may interfere with each other, a single solution to close all gender gaps at once does not exist (nor is unclear whether all gender gaps reflect inequality of opportunity between men and women).

This challenge is about identifying a gender gap that is important for you personally and propose an idea of how this gender gap might be closed or at least reduced. Maybe you already know whether and what you would like to study after leaving high school or you have a job in mind you would like to pursue? Are men or women more likely to study this subject – and, if so, why might this be the case? Is there a gender gap in your desired job? In a first step, you should identify possible gender gaps that may become relevant for you. Try to collect as much evidence on the gender gap as possible. Are there official statistics quantifying the gender gap? Are there research papers scrutinizing the gender gap? Are there any wide-spread accounts on discrimination or unequal treatment of men and women? The more you learn about the causes and consequences of the gender gap you are interested in, the easier is the second step: Find solutions that can help closing the gender gap! Maybe women are less likely to study engineering because they think the outlook of finding a high-paid job is worse for them? Maybe men are less likely to take parental leave because they overestimate the adverse consequences this might have on their career. How can those things be changed? Most experts agree that gender gaps are created by society and impede economic growth and social welfare. Now, it is on you to come up with creative solutions for this important barrier to equal opportunities in our society!

If you need some convincing, whether gender gaps interest you, you may check these popular takes on gender gaps:

  • Deutsche Welle (trends in the gender pay gap in Germany):

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

Must-Read – the team should this before the Kick-Off:

Bertrand, Marianne (2011). New Perspectives on Gender. In Orley Ashenfelter and David Card (editors), Handbook of Labor Economics, Volume 4b, pages 1543–1580. (wird zur Verfügung gestellt)

Additional Literature:

Scientific background (the tip of the iceberg):

  • Blau, Francine and Kahn, Lawrence (2017). The Gender Wage Gap: Extent, Trends, and Explanations. Journal of Economic Literature 55(3):789–865.
  • Goldin, Claudia (2014): A Grand Gender Convergence: Its Last Chapter. American Economic Review 104(4):1091–1119.
  • Bertrand, Marianne (2020). Gender in the Twenty-First Century. AEA Papers and Proceedings 110:1–24.
  • Cortés, Patricia and Pan, Jessica (forthcoming). Children and the Remaining Gender Gaps in the Labor Market. In preparation for the Journal of Economic Literature (

Scientific Partner

Scientific Partner

Supporting Researchers

Daniel Kamhöfer

Daniel Kamhöfer studied economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen and received his PhD there in March 2018. Daniel currently works as a researcher at the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics. In his research, Daniel investigates the determinants of individual well-being, for example the impact of education on the income and health of the individuals concerned. The aim of Daniel’s work is to understand how policies can help more people to have a better life.

Matthias Westphal

Photo: (c) RWI

Matthias Westphal studied economics in Münster and Essen. He then worked as a research assistant at the University of Duisburg-Essen and simultaneously completed postgraduate studies at the Ruhr Graduate School in Economics. Matthias conducts research on education and health economics with a special focus on social change. Since November 2016, he has been a staff member in the “Health” competence area at RWI and since October 2019, he has been a junior professor of economics at the Technical University of Dortmund.