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The hidden pay gap no one talks about: being left-handed

The hidden pay gap no one talks about: being left-handed
[Photo: Samuel Zeller/Unsplash]

Both of my parents were left-handed. But they were born in the early 1950s and their kindergarten teachers believed that being left-handed was a deficiency to be corrected. Thankfully, attitudes about left-handed people changed by the time their left-handed daughter (me) started school, and teachers no longer forced students to change.

The world, however, is still built for the 90% of the population who are right-dominant. Living in a world where most common tools aren’t built for you is inconvenient, but contrary to popular belief, these challenges do not make left-handed people more likely to die earlier (that belief may stem from a 1991 study from the University of British Columbia, but several studies since have debunked those claims).

Still, life for southpaws can be a bit more difficult. Consider:

The left-handed pay gap?

A 2014 Harvard study found that left-handed people’s salaries were, on average, 9% to 19% lower than right-handed people. Of course the gender pay gap still held true, so the gap between lefties and righties was $2,500/year for men and $3,400/year for women. The study also found a possible explanation that left-handers were more likely to not attend or to drop out of college. But dropping out of college certainly didn’t impact famous left-handed CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Natural leaders?

Six out of the last 13 U.S. presidents have been left-handed, which is pretty impressive considering that we only make up 10% of the population. And aside from Zuckerberg, a few of the most successful business people in recent times are also lefties, including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Oprah. Still, while there have been studies that found that left-handed people have better memories and are better at controlling inhibitions, as well as being more competitive, and of course more adept at thinking of creative ways to overcome challenges, there is no definitive proof that left-handed people make better leaders.

If only.

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