This is still a matter of debate. While the practice of men paying for dates most likely stems from the fact that they were the ones who traditionally held the jobs that paid better and that some young women were not employed at all, it still persists. I recall that a young woman who was enrolled in an engineering program at NJIT declared that she never takes a purse on a date because she doesn't expect to have to pay for anything. So for some equal opportunity does not necessarily mean equal treatment.
But let's me scientific about the question and look at a poll results published on LearnVest
When asked who should pick up the check on a first date, 59% of total respondents said that the man should always pay–unless the woman has asked him out. This opinion got more popular with age: While 50% of respondents who fell in Generation Z (ages 18-23) agreed, 71% of the Lost Generation (ages 67-82) felt the same way.
And when the distinction was made solely between males and females, 55% of men and 63% of women agreed that the man should cover the cost.
That's the overall picture, though individuals offer their own perspectives in the rest of the article. Generally, it comes down to an expectation that the one who asks out should pay, regardless of gender. Then there are those who feel bound by the traditionalist view and say the man should pay at the beginning, but the situation can change if a relationship ensues after the first few dates. Several suggested that if the man pays for dinner, the woman should offer to pay for drinks afterwards.
Here are a couple of the responses from individuals in the article:
Spencer, 32, Renewable Energy Investor
It depends on what you define as a date. In the early stages of a relationship, everything is a date. Eventually, being together, going to dinner, movies, etc., becomes just living your life. In the ‘living your life together’ phase, I think something equal or close to equal (if one person makes much less) is important. Even in long-term relationships, I think it is important to make time for dates to do something special and deliberate. I think paying is less about the financial aspect of it and more about the effort. I wouldn’t expect my partner to set up the dinner, plan everything and then ask me to pay. I’d expect to plan the night as a gesture to her, and then paying would be a natural extension of my taking her on a date.
Whitney, 27, Development Associate at a Nonprofit
I always do the “wallet grab,” but I fully expect the guy to wave me off and take care of the check. That being said, I always offer to pay for a beer/coffee/movie after. That’s how I handle first dates, but as you get to know each other, it’s easier to figure out who’s paying for what. If I found this great Groupon to do [insert activity here], I’m certainly not going to ask you to pay me back. I used to say, “Oh, I’d never let a guy pay for me! I can take care of myself! I’ll open my own door, thank you very much!” But let’s be serious here: I work for a nonprofit and don’t make a whole lot of disposable income. Plus, if he’s not willing to at least offer to pay his share, I’ll assume he’s cheap or rude—or both.
Of course, Whitney shouldn't make such assumptions so quickly, as discussed in http://www.examiner.com/article/don-t-jump-to-conclusions-based-on-one-dinner-date Nevertheless, men should be aware that women do make such assumptions and plan accordingly. they also should be sure to read www.examiner.com/article/the-danger-of-a-dinner-date because to be forewarned is to forearmed.