It’s time to end the systemic misogyny reflected in the gender pay gap

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In a pre-pandemic world, UN Women has alerted us to the fact that “women only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men”, resulting in income inequality across the lifespan. A policy brief from the International Labor Organization in July 2021 drew attention to the gendered impact of the global labor market, with a 4.2% drop in female employment, compared to 3% for men.

Additionally, McKinsey Global Institute research on the economic impact of the pandemic projected a regressive gender scenario, with women’s jobs becoming 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s, and women bearing 54% of the losses. global jobs while occupying only 39% of global employment. The cost of doing nothing to correct gender disparity would be high; taking action, McKinsey estimated, could add $13 trillion to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 in a “do nothing” scenario.

As the pandemic has deepened existing gender inequalities, PayScale’s 2022 State of the Gender Pay Gap Report for the United States found that the unchecked gender pay gap in 2021 was $0.82 for every dollar men earned in America, while the controlled gender pay gap, or the wage difference after all compensable factors – such as job title, education, experience, industry, job level and hours worked – were taken into account, was $0.99 for every dollar earned by men, one cent closer to equality, but still not equal . The study inferred that even if the controlled gender pay gap disappeared, the uncontrolled gender pay gap would persist, because higher paying positions are still disproportionately accessible to men compared to women. Additionally, women also pay a “motherhood penalty” and suffer an unchecked wage gap of $0.74 for every dollar earned by a male relative, which over the years shrinks to $0.88 $ per dollar, suggesting that childless women face fewer social barriers in their lives. get better paying jobs. Claudia Goldin, an economist at Harvard, found in her study that the gender wage gap in the United States is widest for women in their 30s, the early reproductive years. Henrik Kleven, an economist at Princeton, using data from Denmark, which is a country with a strong social safety net, observed that motherhood creates a gender wage gap of 20%. In Denmark, in theory, both parents are allowed to share parental leave, but in reality, men make up only 10% Kleven attributed this trend to an environmental factor that makes it more difficult for mothers to stay at work in as full-time workers, and a natural propensity to stay close to the newborn. s.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that one of the reasons for the gender pay gap in the United States was the lack of professional experience of female workers, as they mainly leave the labor market for unpaid care. When trying to re-enter the labor market, they face a wage gap of $0.83 per dollar if the period of absence is less than 3 months, which widens to $0.70 if it is greater. at 24 months. In the post-pandemic world, with a lackluster pace of economic recovery and reduced public and private spending on services like education and child care, many women may have to leave the U.S. workforce for good, commented the study report.

In the case of India, a 2019 Oxfam report indicates that the gender pay gap in the country is around 34%. According to the ADP Research Institute study, People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View, only 65% ​​of women in India received a raise or bonus for taking on additional responsibilities or a new role, compared to 70% men, despite the fact that men and women were equally likely to take on these additional or new responsibilities to help employers deal with the fallout from covid. The Wages Code Act 2019 prohibits gender discrimination in matters relating to wages and recruitment. However, many legal experts felt that since it does not provide a single dispute resolution forum and has multiple issue-centric setups, it could lead to confusion about redress and even harassment. women.

Nonetheless, LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report indicates that 53% of professionals globally support pay transparency laws combined with well-communicated compensation plans. The World Bank‘s 2021 Women, Business and The Law report indicates that around 190 economies have undertaken reforms to laws and regulations that restrict women’s economic opportunities. Countries like Bahrain, Montenegro, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam have eliminated restrictions on women working in jobs previously deemed dangerous for them. The EU has launched a strategy for equality between men and women 2020-2025, identifying key areas for labor market reforms. In the United States, more than 14 states have adopted different versions of salary disclosure laws, so far avoided in the name of confidentiality. The world also celebrates the International Equal Pay Day (IEPD), which began in 2020 under the banner of the United Nations.

Given that wage inequality is the consequence of a deeply rooted systemic flaw in socio-cultural norms, as countries seek to rebuild their pandemic-ravaged economies, we must focus on gender justice in the interest of of a more productive world.

Archana Datta is a former Managing Director of Doordarshan and All India Radio; and former Press Secretary to the President of India

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