The Gender Wage Gap Status In 2018

Women have made great strides in equality, yet it is a persistent fact they still earn less than men. The average salary for women is only 78-82 percent of what men make. A 2017 study found that the pay gap has increased to 32 percent.

At this rate, it’s going to take 217 years to close the gap. Even in countries with robust social support systems, such as Denmark, the wage gap rears its head. Look around the world, and you will see evidence of gender income disparity.

The dispute, then, isn’t that the wage gap exists, but why. It is not merely a matter of women being more likely to work in industries with lower salaries, since The New York Times reports that as women take over male-dominated industries, the pay drops.

Is it Discrimination?

Many blame the income gap on gender discrimination based on an economy that believes that women are not equal to perform the same tasks as men. However, it is more likely to be explained by other factors, such as the fact that men are more likely to negotiate for raises and higher starting salaries. According to this study, men were on average 83 percent more likely to negotiate with employers for higher starting salaries and pay increases compared to only 58 percent of women.

The research also showed that when women do attempt to negotiate higher salaries, they are more likely to be penalized for the action and found that women were more reluctant to push for pay increases based on how they felt they would be treated if they did. Women who attempt to negotiate for raises are perceived overall as “less nice” or as aggressive, whereas men who do so are considered assertive.

Motherhood and Income Inequality

New studies make a persuasive case for yet another explanation. Findings show a steep decline in income for women after the birth of their first child, with no drop in salary for men, adding up to 20 percent less income for women over the course of their career.

Even with men taking on more responsibilities of child-rearing, a majority of duties still fall on mothers, taking them away from their jobs more often, leading them to be perceived as less dependable, less authoritative and less committed to their jobs.

One study found that mothers were six times less likely to be recommended for hire or promotion than their childless counterparts. Mothers were also offered an average starting salary of seven percent less than their male counterparts.

The findings also showed that child-free women earned salaries closer to those of men, leading to the conclusion that the pay gap is not gender discrimination, but in fact a penalty for giving birth. While other historical factors that drive the wage gap such as education levels and entry for women into specific fields are slowly disappearing, women’s responsibility for childbirth is not something that can change.

The complexities of the wage gap problem run much deeper than the factors of gender discrimination or childbearing status, and understanding those nuances are key to understanding why the wage gap continues to exist.

A great deal is being done to close the gap. UK, Australia, Germany and other countries are now requiring employers to publish yearly salary reports. But more legislation is needed. Closing the pay gap isn’t just good for women, the world’s global GDP could increase by 5.3 trillion by 2025. And that’s simply good news for everyone.