experiment Society Employment

It Has Been 0 Days Since the Last Workplace Discrimination


After a landmark 2022 agreement between the U.S. Soccer Federation and top male and female athletes, all U.S. National Team Soccer players earn equal pay in international competitions. Too bad the USMNT didn’t negotiate “equal performance” standards, or they might have walked away from Doha with some hardware. Despite the remarkably progressive move, a recent Pew analysis reveals that women in 2022 earn 82% of what their male counterparts bank—a figure that’s grown less in 20 years than Stewie Griffin.


In addition to the unacceptably wide gender wage gap, women in the workplace are more likely to be the targets of sexual harassment, are offered fewer leadership opportunities, and have to pleasantly nod when their creepy boss asks if they’re planning on having kids anytime soon. None of your business, Jerry, and my eyes are up here. To find out what Americans really think about gender inequality in the workplace, we designed a list experiment.



Even though a majority of both men and women publicly agree that employees in America are, generally speaking, treated differently on the basis of gender, women are significantly more likely to agree (64% vs. 58%, respectively). However, private opinions do not differ dramatically: roughly half of all men and women agree with the statement privately (52% and 48%, respectively).


The gap among women is noteworthy, but we wanted to make sure the disparity is, in fact, due to beliefs about gender discrimination in the workplace, and not reactions, more generally, to discrimination at work. By virtue of a second list experiment (hopefully it’s not possible to OD on truth serum), we tested the alternative hypothesis by substituting “race” for “gender.”



Women, again, do tend to have a larger gap between their public and private opinion, but the difference is much less pronounced concerning the subject of race discrimination in the workplace—suggesting women are more likely to publicly express a belief in gender inequality in the workplace than they are to do so privately.


The relatively large, 16-point gap, between public and private opinion among women on the subject of gender discrimination could mean a few things:


  • First, the survey item wording was intentionally ambiguous, and respondents may have felt more indifference than indignation when reviewing the statement alongside other list experiment statements.
  • Second, women may feel societal pressure to conform to expectations about what they should say on the matter, but many have more nuanced and critical perspectives on the subject.
  • Third, isn’t it more satisfying when lists end in three items?