At current trends, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap

Welcome to “The Future of Women” blog series.  The Future of Women focus on AskDrConnie.com will highlight current and future trends impacting women around the world.  

The first part of this series highlights a recent publication by the International Labour Office (ILO).   Women at Work:  Trends 2016, focused on examining gender equity globally.  As ILO mentions in their report, gender equity and women’s empowerment are critical to positive global transformation.  Below are excerpts from the report, please read, reflect and share your wisdom by clicking on “Leave a comment” in above!

Let’s dive into the report.  One of my favorite quotes and excerpts from the Executive Summary (beginning on p. xvi) will hit home with many of you:

At current trends, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap

Globally, the gender wage gap is estimated to be 23 per cent; in other words, women earn 77 per cent of what men earn. Even when considering hourly wage rates (given the fact that women are working shorter hours than men), women continue to face a persistent gender wage gap, amounting to 10 per cent or more in countries for which data are available. These gaps cannot be explained solely by differences in education or age, but are also linked to the undervaluation of the work that women undertake and of the skills required in female-dominated sectors or occupations, the practice of discrimination, and the need for women to take career breaks to attend to additional care responsibilities, for instance after the birth of a child. Recently, some progress has been made in reducing these gender wage gaps, but improvements are small and, if current trends prevail, it will take more than 70 years before gender wage gaps are closed completely. Reductions in the gender wage gap are mostly attributable to explicit policy actions to address gender imbalances in the labour market, rather than to general improvements in living standards. In fact, the gender wage gap is unrelated to a country’s level of economic development, as some of the countries with high per-capita levels are among those with the highest gender wage gaps. Economic development alone will not ensure an equitable distribution of the gains from growth between men and women.

 

The above information does not come as much of a surprise. I published an article, Entrepreneurial Career Development:  Using Human Capital, Social Capital and Distance Education to Achieve Success, in the Advancing Women in Leadership Journal with two of my distinguished colleagues at the University of Nebraska in 2007.   The issue of pay inequity between genders has been a point of discussion for many years.  However, the conclusions of this report focused on not only the role of women but men as well were bold statements that I really appreciated (p. 94-95):

Conclusion

The present report undertakes to demonstrate that, for substantive gender equality to be achieved, it is essential that societies recognize that both women and men have a right to work and care. In particular, failures to address workers’ family responsibilities underlie sectoral and occupational segregation, gaps in wages, working hours and access to social protection. Thus, gender inequalities at work can be eliminated only by neutralizing the disadvantages stemming from women’s reproductive function and promoting the equal sharing of unpaid care work between women and men, and between the family and society at large. This requires integrated and transformative measures guided by ILO international labour standards that put the elimination of discrimination and the achievement of gender equality at home and at work at the very heart of policy interventions.In view of the implications of the economic crisis on the global care economy, as discussed in the preceding pages, international policy action also entails a profound reorganization of the relations between the fi- nance, the production and the reproduction spheres, with the objective of guaranteeing a sustainable, crisis-free and gender-equitable global economy. In this shifted paradigm, finance and production should serve the needs of reproduction, namely the realm of care which is core to human well-being (Elson, 2014). Achieving gender equality also depends on positioning the issues of the global care deficits and chains and their ramifications in the care economy on the migration agenda, as this issue goes to the heart of the demand for and supply of migrant workers in many contexts. Ensuring that migration, labour and social protection policies are harmonized to protect the rights to care and be cared for will be fundamental in this endeavour (Hennebry 2014; ILO 2014l).As discussed in the present report, genuine gender equality benefits our societies and economies in terms of increased job-rich economic growth, reduced poverty, inequality and social exclusion, and overall improved well-being. It is therefore time to take action. The following overview summarizes the key policy measures discussed in the report and informed by ILO Conventions and Recommendations that would be needed to realize, in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, a sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Overview of the main policy interventions to achieve gender equality at work in line with ILO international labour standards

Tackling the root causes of sectoral and occupational segregation

  • Encouraging young girls and boys to break gender stereotypes through education and outreach;
  • Offering training to women and men to enter into non-stereotypical fields;
  • Promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
  • Supporting women’s participation and leadership in decision-making, including in governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Addressing the gender wage gap

  • Eliminating unequal treatment of men and women in the labour market;
  • Promoting equal pay for work of equal value through wage transparency, training and gender neutral job evaluations methods;
  • Supporting adequate and inclusive minimum wages and strengthening collective bargaining;
  • Promoting and normalizing good quality part-time work;
  • Limiting long paid hours and overwork;
  • Transforming institutions to prevent and eliminate discrimination;
  • Changing attitudes towards unpaid care work to overcome the motherhood wage gap.

Overview of the main policy interventions to achieve gender equality at work in line with ILO international labour standards

Tackling the root causes of sectoral and occupational segregation

  • Encouraging young girls and boys to break gender stereotypes through education and outreach;
  • Offering training to women and men to enter into non-stereotypical fields;
  • Promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
  • Supporting women’s participation and leadership in decision-making, including in governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations.

Addressing the gender wage gap

  • Eliminating unequal treatment of men and women in the labour market;
  • Promoting equal pay for work of equal value through wage transparency, training and gender neutral job evaluations methods;
  • Supporting adequate and inclusive minimum wages and strengthening collective bargaining;
  • Promoting and normalizing good quality part-time work;
  • Limiting long paid hours and overwork;
  • Transforming institutions to prevent and eliminate discrimination;
  • Changing attitudes towards unpaid care work to overcome the motherhood wage gap.

Implementing a comprehensive framework to achieve the harmonization of work and family responsibilities

  • Providing maternity protection to all women according to international labour standards;
  • Guaranteeing adequate social protection to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work;
  • Ensuring the provision of basic infrastructure, in particular in rural areas;
  • Implementing gender-transformative leave policies: increasing leave entitlements for fathers and boosting their take-up rates;
  • Making quality early childhood care and education a universal right;
  • Creating and protecting quality jobs in the care economy;
  • Promoting decent work for care professionals, including domestic and migrant workers;
  • Extending long-term care coverage for older persons;
  • Promoting family-friendly flexible working arrangements;
  • Encouraging individual income taxation to increase women’s labour force participation;
  • Offering work reintegration measures.

This report goes into great depth on a number of topics.  I have only highlighted a few on this post.  If you are interested in the details, please download the full report, Women at Work:  Trends 2016, directly from the ILO’s website.   

Why is this information and The Future of Women series important to women over 40?  Women over 40 have had many of the experiences this report highlights.  We have experienced lower pay for equal work, we have put up with inappropriate comments and we have knowledge about what it takes to balance work, family and everything else we have going on in our lives.   We also have the opportunity to make work and life better for younger women, men and families.  Women over 40 are leading massive change and reform globally, and together we can do more to shape the future!
Please share your leadership reflections, insights and experiences by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” button at the beginning of this post!  
Go Wild with the Future of Women!
-Dr. Connie
 
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Dr. Connie

Helping women in midlife realize their Future through Fabulousness, Family, Finances, Fitness and Fun.

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