Men's attitudes about working women are affected by the gender of their kids, reports Columbia Business School (hat tip: The Juggle at The Wall Street Journal), about a study that looked at the salaries of over 700,000 workers at 6,230 firms in Denmark. (The research was conducted by David Gaddis Ross of Columbia, Michael Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark, and Cristian Dezsö of the University of Maryland.) Denmark is a gold mine for this type of study, because it maintains detailed demographic statistics about its workforce.
According to the study, male CEOs with daughters tend to treat female employees more fairly. This is what Columbia says about the daughter effect:
[A] short time after male CEOs had daughters, women’s wages rose relative to men’s, shrinking the gender wage gap at their firms. The birth of a son, in contrast, had no effect on the wage gap. First daughters who were also the firstborn children of a CEO had a bigger effect than subsequent daughters, decreasing the gap by almost 3 percent. First daughters who were not the firstborn children of the CEOs had a less dramatic but still significant effect, closing the gap by 0.8 percent. The overall reduction in the gender wage gap was 0.5 percent.
Moreover, said professor Ross: "It follows that CEOs may be more apt to see their more educated women employees as resembling a possible future incarnation of their daughters."
And how does this play out in the legal arena? Personally, I've worked for a number of men with daughters. Did I find a difference? Well, it's complicated. Interestingly, some were both encouraging and sexist at the same time. I remember one rainmaker partner with two daughters who never hesitated to give plum assignments to women; but what was uncomfortable was that he also expected female associates--and not the men--to help him entertain male clients during late-night outings on the town.
In fact, several women lawyers I spoke with aren't convinced that men with daughters are more sympathetic to female employees. "It should be true in theory, but I don't see it in my experience," says one New York associate. She adds, though, that partners who have adult daughters in the workforce might be a bit more sensitive toward female employees.
Another associate says the real focus should be on the wives, not the daughters. "[Male partners] whose wives work [outside the home] make better supervisors than men whose wives don't," she says.
Readers, do you find that male bosses with daughters treat women more equitably? What's your experience?
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