The gender pay gap—the difference between median male and female yearly earnings when looking at full-time, year-round workers—is one of the most recognizable impacts of gender discrimination. There are many reasons given for this gap, from women choosing to take breaks from their careers to focus on family, to women being disproportionately employed in low-earning jobs relative to men (who have traditionally been disproportionately represented in professional and managerial jobs).
Are We Making Progress?
The good news, though, is that in the United States, there has been considerable progress in closing the gap. According to Anna Brown and Eileen Patten in an article for Pew Research Center, “The estimated 17-cent gender pay gap for all workers in 2015 has narrowed, from 36 cents in 1980. For young women, the gap has narrowed even more over time. Back in 1980, they earned 67% of their male counterparts, compared with 90% in 2015.”
The news may be much bleaker globally. While the gender pay gap has been steadily closing in the United States, a recent article for Quartz by Lianna Brinded notes that, “For the first time since the World Economic Forum’s records began in 2006, the global gender gap is widening again.” Brinded reports that, every year, the WEF ranks 144 countries on its Global Gender Gap Index to compare them on four “pillars”: economic participation and opportunity, education, political empowerment, and health and survival.
Can We Make Progress More Quickly?
One of the most shocking conclusions of the most recent WEF study: the economic gender gap will not be closed for 217 years! Think about that for a minute. 217 years ago was 1801. The United States had barely entered existence.
It’s startling to think that, while we still have work to do here in the U.S. to close the wage gap, there are other countries where the situation is much more dismal. As we move to an increasingly global economy, this may change. We can do more than simply hope, though. We can take steps to ensure that we are offering equal pay for equal work here—and abroad.
The value of employees should be based on the contributions they make. Not their gender, age, sex, race or nationality. Be inclusive!