Are workers with a ‘male brain’ better off?

Published: 30 October 2015 at 15:13


Study shows men with Type-S brain earn 9.8% more than those with a Type-E brain

New research shows that UK workers with a “male brain” earn significantly more than those with a “female brain”.

Dr Nick Drydakis, of Anglia Ruskin University, carried out the research – the first study into brain type and wages in the UK – based on 16,234 longitudinal observations.

In addition to demographic and socioeconomic questions, respondents also completed empathising and systemising questionnaires, which quantify the Empathising-Systemizing Theory. 

Cognitive studies have shown that men score significantly higher on the systemising questionnaire (the desire to construct or analyse systems), while women score significantly higher on the empathising questionnaire (recognising the thoughts and feelings of others).  

As a result, a Type-S brain is commonly known as a “male brain”, while a Type-E brain is known as a “female brain”.

Dr Drydakis’ study found that men with a male brain earn 9.8% more compared to those with a female brain.  And women with a male brain earn 6.3% more than those with a female brain.

The study found that having a male brain is linked to higher wages in management, administration, IT, engineering and banking.  

Because these employees have to deal with organisational systems, systemising traits might function better in administering, evaluating, adapting and changing these systems within these occupations.

Importantly, however, people with a female brain earn higher wages in sectors such as education, social care, sales and customer services – where empathising traits may be a better fit for these jobs’ requirements – than workers with a male brain.  

Empathising traits are related to counselling and advising.  For these professions, caring for other people, being warm and offering advice are important characteristics of an employee.

Dr Drydakis, Reader in Economics at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Overall the results show that employees with higher systemising traits, or a male brain, receive greater financial rewards in the UK labour market.

“The results also suggest that men and women in certain occupations face positive wage rewards when their empathising and systemising traits are atypical to their gender, for example men with a female brain working in social care or women with a male brain working in banking.”

Dr Drydakis believes that companies and organisations should investigate brain type as a way of identifying strengths of current and future employees.  He added:

“Systemising and empathising drivers are attributes that should be studied and valued in the labour market.
“Employees’ brains are probably the most important productivity resource a firm has, and the E-S theory might provide predictions for each potential employee.”  

The study, Brain Types and Wages, has been published as an IZA Discussion Paper and will appear in a forthcoming edition of The Manchester School journal.