By Anindita Mukhopadhyay
Maclean’s, a Canadian news magazine has created two covers for their March edition. These are to be sold at two different prices, the regular $6.99 and an inflated $8.81, to reflect the 26% gap between full-time wages paid to men and women in Canada. Maclean’s initiative is inspired by the headline-grabbing 2016 Gender Pay Gap Bake Sale by students at the University of Queensland in Australia, which followed a similar pricing principle. Striving to stimulate urgent conversation and action on the issue, this is an effort to chip into the #MeToo movement’s latest call for equal pay as a part of the gender equality mandate.
The existing gender wage gap
Statistics Canada data released in 2017, quantified hourly earnings of the average Canadian woman to be 87 cents for every dollar made by men. Estimates for the pay equity gap range from 8% to as high as 50%, depending on the demographic and profession compared. The 26% value from Maclean’s cover compares full-time working men and women, the broad comparison accounting for most workers in the country. This is reflected on a global scale as well, with global average annual earnings for women at US$ 11000 as compared to US$ 20000 for men according to the Global Gender Gap Index 2016 released by the World Economic Forum.
However, these values don’t take into account the obvious differences in education, occupations, experience, and skill levels. Additionally, on an average, women work fewer paid hours which is not factored into the values for the full-time working comparison between men and women. Considering these modifications, the pay gap shrinks to about 4 to 8%. This stubborn unexplained wage gap is largely attributed to direct gender discrimination.
One of the arguments used to justify the stubborn wage gap is the idea of ‘choice’. Women simply choose to study less financially rewarding subjects, choosing to enter lower-paying professions to work with greater flexibility over shorter working hours, along with maternal leave, negatively affecting their income. These arguments dismiss the role of the patriarchal social conditioning of men and women which make child-rearing in addition to child-bearing, the sole responsibility of women. This overburdening is partly responsible for the top ten lowest paying professions to be dominated by women while their male counterparts occupy the highest paying positions as well as occupations. However, research has shown, even within lucrative, male-dominated professions, there is still a stark disparity in income.
Additionally, with men and women largely working in different professions, performing completely different work, there is a strange tendency that more the work is associated with women, or stereotypically done by women, the lower it is paid. The tendency is backed by a notable study. Researchers from Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania examined US census data from 1950 to 2000 and found that as more women moved into historically male roles, pay for those jobs declined. This is also found to be conversely true for men.
Existing wage gap in India
According to a 2017 report by Accenture, the average Indian working woman earns only about US$100 compared to her male counterpart’s US$167. Factoring in this high gender pay gap, India is ranked 108 on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017. The income disparity in India has much to do with employers’ biased perceptions, women’s lower bargaining power, and child care responsibility, in addition to the far fewer women stepping out of homes into more lucrative professions. As a result, though the wage gap is not something extensively discussed in India, it is slowly receiving its due attention.
However, women across the globe are angrier than ever, having been repeatedly denied equivalent pay packets despite demanding the same for decades. In a step towards gender equality, Adobe has announced that the company has achieved pay parity in India, closing the wage gap between its male and female employees. In addition to the obvious social progress, achieving gender parity has hefty economic benefits as well. The world, as a whole, could increase global GDP by $5.3 trillion by 2025 if it closed the gender gap in economic participation by 25% over the same period.
Featured image source: Flickr
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius