A new YouGov survey asked American men and women if they were willing to literally invest in the gender equality movement by agreeing to a cut in pay if they learned that other employees were getting paid less than them. To the surprise of no one, YouGov found that most respondents weren't so enthused about getting paid less "for fairness" — even a majority of Democrats and women are not willing to put their money where their mouth is.
The YouGov survey of 14,240 U.S. adults comes in part as a response to some male BBC news hosts announcing to the world that they have magnanimously agreed to a pay cut after learning that their female counterparts with similar experience and talents were making less than them. So will Americans follow the lead of their moral compasses over at BBC? Not so much.
Here's the question YouGov asked respondents:
Several male TV hosts at the BBC have agreed to take pay cuts after it emerged they were being paid significantly more than their female counterparts. Imagine you were in a job where you discovered that other people in the same role as you in your workplace, with identical skills and experience, were being paid less than you – would you be willing to take a pay cut for the sake of fairness?
A third (33%) of respondents claimed they would. The other 67% either said they would not (38%) or they were not sure what they'd do (29%).
When YouGov broke down responses according to political affiliation, they found more unsurprising results: More Democrats (40%) claimed they'd take a cut than Republicans (25%), but one thing was consistent: a majority were either unwilling or uncertain about the whole "get paid less" proposition.
Broken down by gender, the results aren't a whole lot different:
Less than a third of men (32%) say they would take a reduction in their salary in the name of fairness and more than four in ten (44%) say they would not take a salary cut. Women are slightly more likely to take a paycut (34%) than say they wouldn’t (31%), though just by three percentage points.
The only group in which more respondents claimed they'd take a cut than said they definitely wouldn't was millennials: 40% of 25 to 34 year-olds said they'd get paid less for "fairness," while 38% said they wouldn't.
Another survey question took money out of the equation by asking Americans if they supported universities and organizations giving special treatment to women in order to "encourage equality." YouGov found "just a quarter of people (24%) who said they would not take a pay cut would support a measure like that, while 55% of people who would take a pay cut support such measures."
Unscientific estimate: A whole lot of those who told pollsters they'd take a pay cut would sing a different tune if actually faced with the situation in real life where real bills continue to come and their real families have real needs.
In case you haven't seen it, here are Christina Hoff Sommers' viral videos debunking many of the myths of the "gender wage gap":