The Global Gender Gap score stands at 68% as per "The Global Gender Gap Report" published by “World Economic Forum” in 2018. This means that, on average, there is still a 32% gap to close. The report highlights how the gap is still large across most of the 149 countries assessed. To date, no country has achieved parity, and only the top seven countries in the rankings have closed at least 80% of the gap. Among them, the top four are Nordic countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland), one is from Latin American (Nicaragua, 5th), one is from Sub-Saharan Africa (Rwanda, 6th). India stands below the global average, at roughly 65% & these statistics just give us an indication & actual number can be much larger.
Often when we discuss Gender Pay Gap another term that pops on google search is “Equal Pay for Equal Work” which means that women are often paid less for doing the same job as men, just for being women. So question arises “Why women are paid less, just because of their gender ?
If we look into our past, most women didn’t work at all, so there weren’t many women in active workforce. Also, women did not have equal opportunities as men, when it came to education. In India, often parents thought, that educating a girl child was wastage of money as they will eventually be married away, to be a good wife & a mother to manage a home & cook food, for which higher education is not needed. So often women did not go to schools & universities at all. Few women who worked, chose less paying feminine jobs like teachers, nurses, secretaries & often part time jobs so that they can have enough time to mange their household responsibilities in addition to working on a job. There were hardly any women in executive roles & positions of power in the society. Women during those times, did jobs to earn money but didn’t focus on building careers. Then there were additional cultural elements at play like women should be homemakers, they should raise children or pure discrimination in kind of jobs they could apply to even if they wanted.
In today’s world, the gender pay gap has definitely narrowed & many of the causes listed above have changed but what remains is the cultural belief that women are the primary caregivers & men are breadwinners in a family. Hence women are often responsible for raising the children even in progressive western countries like Scandinavian & rest of Europe. Lot of people believe that once a women is a mother, she should not have full time career. Even if a women works a full time job, she is still expected to take care of the kid & do rest of the household chores resulting into 15-16 hours of work everyday, compared to 9-10 hours day by men. I feel fortunate to have been able to restart my career as an entrepreneur after giving birth to 2 children. I was able to do it successfully & scale our business at the same time, due to fact, that as an entrepreneur, I could structure my work schedules as per my children’s schedules. I often carried my 6 months old son in a baby carrier to my meetings & breastfed my kid in a shopping mall whenever needed.
Let’s take the case of the couple, Adam & Eve from my previous blog to understand present day situation. Both Adam & Eve went to the same college & had similar grades. They get married & they both take-up jobs as wealth mangers in the same bank. They both had similar pay packages to begin with. After few years, they decided to have a baby & once they had a child, at that point, one of them had to be at home more. Inspite of having help from parents, nannies, caretaker etc a parent needs to be at home, for all those situations that needs a parent, like when your child is sick or has homework or needs to taken care of. So with time Eve started spending more time at home taking care of their child & misses some of those assignments, travel & opportunities; while Adam gets a raise at work. From thereon their earning capabilities start diverging & Adam becomes a VP whereas Eve starts doing flexible shifts so she can spend more time with her kids during their formative years.
If we now compare the earnings of a "women without kids" with "men" it’s actually not that steep. So to conclude that the pay gap that exists in today’s society is not between men & women but between "women with children" & "everybody else". Women who are not caregivers earn 96% of every dollar.
To Summarize, the gender pay gap that exists is not the penalty of “being a women” but “being a mom” at a deeper level. However it is not impossible to break this stereotype, and there are enough examples of successful mothers like Indra Nooyi & Sheryl Sandberg who are now leading a successful professional careers & managing it all. It just requires some adjustments & changes in thought process wherein both men & women should be seen as caretakers & breadwinners. Therefore be jointly responsible to bring-up their children.
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