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 – diese Literatur sollte das Team vor dem Kick-Off gelesen haben:

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)

Weitere Literatur:

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 (

Wissenschaftlicher Partner

Wissenschaftlicher Partner

Betreuende Forschende

Daniel Kamhöfer

Daniel Kamhöfer studierte Volkswirtschaftslehre an der Universität Duisburg-Essen und promovierte dort in März 2018. Zurzeit arbeitet Daniel als Wissenschaftler am Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics. In seiner Forschung untersucht Daniel die Determinanten des individuellen Wohlergehens, beispielsweise die Auswirkungen von Bildung auf das Einkommen und die Gesundheit der betroffenen Personen. Das Ziel von Daniels Arbeit ist zu verstehen, wie politische Maßnahmen dazu beitragen können, mehr Menschen ein besseres Leben zu ermöglichen.

Matthias Westphal

Foto: (c) RWI

Matthias Westphal studierte in Münster und Essen Volkswirtschaft. Anschließend arbeitete er als wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter an der Universität Duisburg-Essen und absolvierte gleichzeitig ein Postgraduiertenstudium an der Ruhr Graduate School in Economics. Matthias forscht zu bildungs- und gesundheitsökonomischen Fragestellungen mit besonderem Fokus auf gesellschaftlichem Wandel. Seit November 2016 ist er Mitarbeiter im Kompetenzbereich „Gesundheit“ im RWI und seit Oktober 2019 Juniorprofessur für Volkswirtschaftslehre an der Technischen Universität Dortmund.