Gender pay gap: what is the situation worldwide and what are the factors contributing to it

Oluwatoni Olujinmi

In today’s complicated socioeconomic context, the gender pay gap continues to be a barrier to progress and equality. It is a thorn in the side of development and equality.

Despite the fact that the Treaty of Rome established the principle of equal pay for equal work in 1957, the so-called gender pay gap has persisted with only slight gains being made in recent years.

This article explores the nuanced nature of the gender pay gap with the goal of promoting a better comprehension of its existence and impact on cultures around the world.

Meaning of gender pay gap

Understanding the gender pay gap requires first establishing its meaning. Simply put, the gender pay gap is the difference between men’s and women’s typical earnings in the same field or profession. It is calculated from gross wages, meaning wages given to workers before any deductions for things like taxes and benefits. 

Also, the term “gender pay gap” refers to the persistent problem of unequal pay between men and women, which includes both insidious impacts of systemic biases and overt wage discrimination. Recent estimates imply that women earn 16 percent less than men worldwide, while the gap is much wider in many regions. 

The pay gap remains because it is the product of deep disparities in society and the economy, even while there has been progress on gender equality, such as improving women’s and girls’ access to education and higher rates of involvement of women in the labor market. 

Over the past few decades, women have made great strides in education and employment, including entering traditionally male-dominated fields like law and medicine and sometimes attaining higher levels of education than men. Yet the wage difference persists; experts predict it will take two hundred and fifty seven years to eliminate the gender pay gap globally at the present rate of improvement.

Read also: Women rights, these are the best and worst countries in the world to be a woman

Calculating the gender pay gap

There are several factors to consider when attempting to quantify the gender pay gap.

Typically, this is done by comparing the median salaries of men and women over a given time period, taking into consideration factors like experience, occupation, and education.

The complexities of this issue can be better understable by looking at the pay discrepancy across different demographics and industries.

Factors contributing to gender pay gap

The gender pay gap between men and women persists by a variety of factors. Here are some of them:

1. Occupational segregation

There have always been male-dominated fields and professions. Overrepresented in lower-paying areas like education and healthcare, while underrepresented in higher-paying fields like technology, engineering, and finance. Because of this gender gap, women are shut out of high-paying fields and have fewer possibilities to develop in their careers.

2. Wage negotiation

Female employees are less likely than male employees to initiate salary negotiations, according to studies. Reasons for this include conforming to society norms, insecurity, and a fear of negative feedback. The pay gap is wider when women experience unfavorable consequences or less favorable outcomes during negotiations than their male counterparts.

3. Hiring and promotion biases

Women may be at a disadvantage in the workplace due to bias and stereotyping in the hiring and promotion procedures. There is evidence to suggest that the same resume presented under a man’s name is more likely to result in a job offer and a better salary than the same resume presented under a woman’s identity. Similarly, biases that place more value on males than women in managerial positions may prevent women from advancing in their careers.

4. Unpaid care work

Unpaid care work, such as child care and housework, is typically performed by women. Because of this, they might not be able to get a full-time job or advance in their current one. Women carry a heavier load due to the gendered division of labor and societal expectations. Which has a negative effect on their earning potential and professional advancement.

5. Limited access to leadership positions 

Women are grossly underrepresented in positions of power and authority in both business and government. The issue of the “glass ceiling” makes it more difficult for them to obtain jobs with higher salaries and positions of control. It is challenging for women to ascend to positions of power. This is due to the scarcity of female role models as well as other structural barriers.

Benefits of closing the gap

Progress toward gender equality is hampered by the persistent gender wage gap, which is a reflection of greater socioeconomic inequalities. When women first enter the workforce, the gender wage gap is quite small. But it widens with time as women juggle more responsibilities at work and at home. 

Since women have less disposable income, they are more likely to be impoverished and socially isolated as they age. Eliminating the wage gap between men and women is crucial to building prosperous and equitable communities for all members of society.

Equal pay for equal work would help alleviate poverty and boost economic growth by giving women more discretionary income to spend. The revenue base would grow and the welfare system would see some relief as a result.

Read also: All the women leaders, premier and head of state currently in power worldwide

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