10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Gender Pay Gap

Amidst the continuous fight for equality, the gender pay gap continues to rear its ugly head. Despite social constancy, the gender pay gap persists even today. This impactful piece aims to shed light on ten facets of this issue that you may not be aware of.

1. The Gender Pay Gap is Not Just About Gender

While deeply rooted in gender inequality, the pay gap extends far beyond just gender. Factors such as race, education, age, and job type also significantly contribute to the disparities. Various ethnic groups experience different wage gaps. African American and Hispanic women often face more severe pay disparities compared to their white and Asian counterparts.

Similarly, job segregation perpetuates gender pay gap. Women typically work in lower-paid sectors and are underrepresented in high-wage industries. Despite these variations, the gender pay level difference persists across all demographic groups and sectors.

2. The Gender Pay Gap Widens with Age

Interestingly, the gender pay gap is not consistent throughout one’s lifetime. It is relatively small at the start of a career. However, the wage gap tends to widen as people grow older. One reason for this is as employees climb the career ladder, women are disproportionately represented in lower-paying jobs and roles with less advancement opportunities, causing the pay gap to widen as individuals progress in their careers.

Additionally, factors like motherhood come into play here. After returning to work post maternity leave, women are often met with lower wages. This phenomenon, known as the ‘motherhood penalty,’ contributes significantly to the widening gender pay gap as women grow older.

3. The Gender Pay Gap is International

The gender pay gap is a worldwide phenomenon and not just confined to a particular region or country. According to a report by the International Labour Organization, globally, women earn 77% of what men do. Although this percentage differs from country to country, no nation is fully free from it.

It’s noteworthy that some nations have made more progress in closing their gender wage gap than others. For example, Iceland is currently leading the world in terms of gender pay equity. However, despite these efforts, the pay gap does remain a global concern, especially in developing nations.

4. Occupations Dominated by Women Pay Less

Occupations dominated by women tend to pay less than those dominated by men. This is not a coincidence, but a consequence of systemic sexism where industries dominated by women such as caregivers, educators, etc., are undervalued compared to ones dominated by men, such as software developers, engineers, etc.

This is true even within similar job categories. For example, male-dominated engineering roles tend to pay higher than female-dominated nursing roles even though they both fall under the ‘STEM’ category.

5. Women are Less Likely to Negotiate Salaries

It’s found that women are less likely to negotiate their salaries compared to men, which can further perpetuate the gender wage gap. Women often face socialized gender stereotypes that make it difficult for them to negotiate their earnings without backlash.

Furthermore, even when women do negotiate, they don’t always get the same results as men. Research has found that women who negotiate are often seen as aggressive or demanding. This discourages many women from negotiating their salaries, thus widening the existing pay gap.

6. The Gender Pay Gap Exists at All Educational Levels

The gender pay gap is consistent across all educational levels. It’s a common misconception that women with less education are more likely to face wage inequality. The truth is, the gender pay gap persists even among those with advanced degrees.

Recent studies show that women with doctoral degrees are still earning less than men with master’s degrees. This clearly indicates that education is not a guaranteed solution to bridging the wage gap.

7. The Gender Pay Gap Affects Retirement Savings

The cumulative effect of the gender wage gap can have a significant impact on a woman’s retirement savings. With less income throughout their careers, women have less money to put away for retirement, leading to a larger gender wealth gap in old age.

Furthermore, women tend to live longer than men, exacerbating the risk of poverty in old age. This makes closing the gender pay gap crucial for women’s long-term financial security.

8. The Gender Pay Gap Leads to Economic Inequality

The gender wage gap doesn’t only hurt women; it also hampers the overall economic development. If women are earning less, it means the overall purchasing power of the masses is reduced. It stifles economic growth by reducing the aggregate demand in the economy.

Moreover, the wage gap leads to less spending on education and health. Lower income for women often means lower levels of well-being for their families. This contributes to overall inequality and hampers social development.

9. The Gender Pay Gap is Predicted to Persist for Decades

Unless substantive changes occur, experts predict the gender pay gap will persist for several more decades. According to the World Economic Forum, at the current pace, it will take nearly a century to close the worldwide gender pay gap. This timeline is even longer in certain regions or sectors.

Realizing the economic and social benefits of bridging the pay gap, many organizations are working to expedite the cycle. However, without concerted effort from governments, businesses and individuals, progress is projected to be slow.

10. Transparency Can Help Close the Gender Pay Gap

One promising way to bridge the gender pay gap is through pay transparency. If salaries are public, women are more likely to be aware if they’re earning less than their male counterparts. This empowers them to negotiate effectively, leading to more equal pay.

Some businesses and governments have started adopting transparency policies. This includes disclosing the average pay for male and female employees or showing salary ranges in job postings. While this requires a shift in corporate culture and approach, pay transparency could play a key role in closing the gender wage gap.

In conclusion, understanding the gender pay gap and its implications is imperative. The need of the hour is to bring about meaningful changes that promote equal pay for equal work irrespective of gender, for a better and more equal future.

For more detailed information on the Gender Pay Gap, see the following resources:

World Bank Women, Business and the Law – Pay
ILO Global Wage Report 2020-21: Wages and Minimum Wages in the time of COVID-19