Evolutionary Psychology and Sex Differences in Workplace Patterns

  • Kingsley R. BrowneEmail author


Differences in workplace outcomes – such as the “glass ceiling”, the “gender gap in compensation”, and “occupational segregation” – are often attributed primarily to social forces. However, biological sex differences with roots in our evolutionary history and mediated by sex hormones also play an important role.

The sexes differ, on average, along a number of temperamental and cognitive dimensions. Males are higher in competitiveness, dominance-seeking, and risk-taking, while females are higher in nurturance. Males have an advantage in mechanical ability and on some spatial and mathematical tasks, while females outperform males on other spatial and computational tasks, as well as on many verbal tasks. Females tend to be more “person-oriented” and males more “thing-oriented”.

Talents and tastes have major workplace effects, as they influence how high in organizations people progress, how much money they make, and what jobs they hold. Men are more likely to subordinate other things – often including families – to maintain a single-minded focus on success and to take the risks necessary to become top executives. Men earn more money than women because, among other reasons, they tend to work more hours, occupy riskier jobs, and work in less-pleasant environments. Many jobs continue to be highly segregated by sex not just because of cognitive and physical sex differences, but probably even more strongly because of differences in occupational interests.


Sex differences Temperament Workplace Testosterone Glass ceiling Gender gap Occupational segregation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wayne State University Law SchoolDetroitUSA

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