Gender wage gap research by Xiaofei Pan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics at Bryant University, has been included in the Women and Public Policy Programs’ Gender Action Portal at the Harvard Kennedy School. The selection process was highly rigorous, focusing on experiments in the field and the laboratory. The paper – “The Effect of Task Choice and Task Assignment on the Gender Wage Gap: An Experimental Study” – appears alongside more than 150 others from leading academics whose work has been instrumental in our understanding of how to advance gender equity.
Co-authored with Florida State Assistant Professor Kai Ou, the paper examines whether the relative difficulty of tasks that men and women choose affects their earnings. It also investigates if women’s potential for higher earnings can be driven by the types of job-related tasks they choose, particularly those typically chosen by men.
The pair found that men who selected a harder, higher-paid task (math and verbal problems) were more likely to receive higher earnings regardless of the task they were assigned, while women received higher earnings when they worked on a harder, higher-paid task even if they initially selected an easier, lower-paid one. These findings suggest that policies encouraging female employees to take on more challenging and rewarding tasks could increase their earnings and lessen the gender wage gap.
Pan’s research interests include behavioral and experimental economics, public economics, and labor economics. Learn more about Economics at Bryant.