Creep? Probably a manager

Men who are sympathetic, kind, co-operative and warm are unlikely to end up as bosses. To some extent the same applies to women. That might not come as a surprise, but a study has provided firm evidence of the link between personality and job choice.

"People who aren't very nice are more likely to become managers," said Michelle Tan, a researcher in the economics program at the Research School of Social Science, at Australian National University, and co-author of the study.

The research found a strong link between personality type and many, though not all, jobs.

The results differed for men and women. Males and females tended to enter different occupations even though they had similar personality traits and skills. Even when they had the same occupations, similar men and women took home widely different pay packets.

The study used a sample of 5397 men and women drawn from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. It sought to understand the extent to which personality determined occupation and whether this could explain the gender pay gap.

It shows women report overall higher levels of extroversion, agreeableness, emotional stability and conscientiousness than do men. Men report higher levels of "openness to experience". There was no difference in men's and women's sense of being able to control the events in their life.

The study found men's personality traits closely linked to some occupations. The more "agreeable" men rated themselves on a personality test, the less likely they were to be managers or business professionals. The more "open to experience" men were, the more likely they were to be in business or education.

The extent to which women were "open to experience" was the main influence on the jobs they held. Like men, the more agreeable women tended to be the less likely they were to be managers but, unlike men, extroversion was associated with women entering managerial ranks.

While similar men and women often ended up in different occupations, this did not explain the gender pay gap.