Is your job a way to pay the bills, or is it part of how you define yourself?
This week, Catherine Rampell of The New York Times took a look at how women answer that question. Rampell analyzed salary and satisfaction data from 30,000 workers compiled by Payscale, a company that collects salary information. She found that despite being paid less than men -- women make 81 cents for every dollar a man does -- women reported feeling a greater sense of purpose in their chosen profession. Rampell hypothesized: "some of the 'softer' aspects to work may partly explain the wage differential: perhaps women are making a trade-off between pay and other aspects of work that make them happy."
According to the Payscale data, Rampell found,
Men Value Money More
Despite the fact that men are out-earning women, their job satisfaction was more closely correlated to financial interests: The median man who loves his job makes 47 percent more money than the man that the median man who hates his, while a woman who loves her job makes only 29 percent more than the woman who hates hers.
Men Log More Hours On Their Commute
Perhaps the men have more difficulty finding meaning in their jobs after sitting in traffic -- Payscale’s data showed that men’s median commute is 20 percent longer than women's. (Though with a median commute of 24 minutes compared to women’s 20, it's hard to see this as a tangible benefit.)
… But Women Are More Stressed (or at least admit to being more stressed)
Rampell reports that 19.4 percent of women said their job is “extremely stressful,” compared to just 14.9 percent of men. This is perhaps partly due to the fact that women are still more likely to be the primary caregivers at home -- meaning they have more tasks to balance.
Men Have More Flexible Schedules
Despite the fact that women still average more responsibilities at home than men, the study showed men are more likely to have flexible work schedules, taking time off and working from home on short notice.
So why, despite the fact that women stress more, are paid less and have less flexible hours than men, do they still find more meaning in their jobs? Is it that women invest more and identify more with everything they do, period ? Is it that women are taught that going after money is unfeminine and so choose professions based on interest more than salary? Or is there some other factor involved?
If you are in a profession you find meaningful, why did you choose it? What trade-offs, if any, were you willing to make to do what you do? Tweet @HuffPostWomen with the hashtag #WhyIWork.