Women earned 82% of what men earned, it would take an extra 47 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2017 via pexels.

What is a Gender Employment Gap and WHY Should We Care?

Nafisa Hasan Basma
7 min readDec 4, 2018


Simply, it is the difference between male and female employment rates. According to ILO Around the world, finding a job is much tougher for women than it is for men. When women are employed, they tend to work in low-quality jobs in vulnerable conditions, and there is little improvement forecast in the near future.

The current global labor force participation rate for women is close to 49%. For men, it’s 75%. A gap of shocking 26%.

With some regions in the world, the gap is more than 50%. Whereas the participation of women in the labor market is a basic right for them. If we talk from the economic perspective, again it has even a better concern. That is reducing gender gaps in labor force participation could substantially boost global GDP. Means prosperity for any nation thus the world!

What are the causes?

One of the most important economic trends of the late 20th century was the dramatic increase in the number of women entering the paid labor force. As more women took jobs, the difference between the average wages or salaries of men and those of women decreased via pexels.

In pretty much every country in the world, men earn more money than women do for the same job. The biggest explanation, accounting for half of the wage gap, is differences in industry and occupation. The gender gap is a complicated issue with many factors contributing to an overall lower rate of pay for women. While critics argue the disparity boils down to personal decisions as well. But women who have risen above the wage gap realize it’s not a question of if it still exists, but rather how they can use their knowledge to combat its effects. The following review of causes arms female professionals with valuable insights to ensure they are one step ahead of common challenges to equal pay.


Though higher education access for some women has improved in recent years, several issues still exist. Although more and more females are attaining post secondary degrees, this increase is not equal across races and ethnicities.

While White and Asian American women are outpacing their male counterparts in terms of attending college, the number of other races of females attending and completing their degrees still lags behind. Reasons for this are varied, though much of it comes down to the accessibility of college for the female of other nationalities.

Another issue that revolves around, is the disparity between how degrees earned by men and women are seen differently by employers. A report by The American Center for Progress found that women must earn an additional degree to make the same amount as a male co-worker over the course of their professional careers. For example, it’s projected that a woman with a doctoral degree will earn the same as a man with a bachelor’s degree!


When it comes to taking care of a family, expectations placed on women often go beyond simply being responsible for producing children. Although a shift is currently taking place and some men are staying home to take care of children, historically women have either been expected to stop working entirely or at least take a number of years off work to raise offspring. This pressure rises exponentially for single mothers, as they must take into consideration questions of childcare and balancing an ever-growing set of responsibilities. Even for women who happily stay home during their child’s first few years, they face the issue of lagging behind male counterparts in areas of skills and experience.

A Stanford University report found that when holding the same qualifications and experience and going for the same job as a man, mothers were discriminated against in both perceived competence and starting salaries. Men, conversely, often receive wage premiums if they are fathers.

Segregation in Occupations

In industries or fields historically dominated by men, women face additional pressures to prove themselves and compete in an outnumbered environment. This issue has been seen in STEM fields for decades, where women may feel unwelcome. The gap begins early in education and is clearly evident by the college. While reports about male-centric workforces and occupational segregation are valuable for highlighting a continuing problem, these issues must be addressed at the educational level to see change. Some industries are slowly turning the boat around, but there is still much work to be done to accomplish equality in both workforce balance and salaries.


Most recent studies are able to account for approximately 60 percent of the reasons for pay inequality between men and women, leaving 40 percent open to interpretation. A report by the National Women’s Law Center suggests a large portion of this unknown cause can be chalked up to discrimination.

Why Is it Important to work on the Gender Employment Gap?

. A 50/50 split isn’t as meaningful if one half is still expected to conform the culture set by the other via pexels.

Nobody has to search hard for reasons to bet against the global economy. Governments and consumers are over-indebted, population growth in the rich world is stalling, income inequality is sapping the purchasing power of consumers, and declines in productivity growth suggest that technology is advancing at a much slower pace than in decades past.

But there’s one antidote that many economists say could help power economic growth in the years to come: WOMEN.

The McKinsey Global Institute published a paper that argues that if women around the world were to “participate in the world of work to an identical extent as men,” by “erasing current gaps in labor-force participation rates, hours worked, and representation within each sector” the global economy would be $28 trillion richer than it is poised to be in 2025. Today, in 2018, women have a strong body of evidence that shows that women’s participation in the economy is critical because when women are able to fulfill their economic potential, GDP goes up and poverty goes down.

Narrowing the Gap…

For full-time, year-round workers, women are paid on average only 77 percent of what men are paid; for women of color, the gap is significantly wider via pexels.

The gender pay gap impacts women across all socioeconomic and racial groups throughout a majority of professional fields. And the gap is bigger for women of color. To top it off, the wage gap only grows larger as women age, with women earning 90 percent of what men make until 35, after which they are paid 75–80% of what men are paid.

Luckily we still have ways that can be followed to narrow the employment gap and get us one step closer to achieving our goal. They are:

1. Acknowledge closing the gap as a human rights priority.

Equal pay isn’t a privilege. It’s law. Discriminatory pay gaps are a violation of human rights, and human rights enforcement is not a partisan issue.

2. Increase the minimum wage

Women working full time, year-round — across all industries and including all races and ethnicities — earn an average of 78% as much as their male counterparts.(Rios, 2015) According to the National Women’s Law Center, two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Two-thirds of workers in low-wage, tipped occupations are also women. “Raising the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage are important steps towards fair pay for women.

3. Women to cultivate negotiation skills.

Research shows 57% of men negotiate their salaries compared to 7% of women.

When women do negotiate salaries, they tend to ask for less money. For example, a study conducted in 2010 found that women ask for an average of $7,000 less than men when negotiating. As the AAUW’s annual report on the gender pay gap states, “Knowing what your skills are worth, making clear what you bring to the table, emphasizing common goals and maintaining a positive attitude are some negotiation tactics that have been shown to be effective for women.”

4. Say NO to the imposter syndrome

Impostor syndrome is the phenomenon “In which people, usually high-achieving professionals don’t consider themselves qualified for their position and convince themselves that they’ve cheated their way into it,” Ann Friedman wrote in a 2013 article for The Pacific Standard. Women are especially vulnerable to impostor syndrome. A large company’s internal survey found that women “applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100% of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60% of the job requirements.”

5. Pick a Fair Field

A report found that nearly half of all women hold the same 20 occupations. By working in female-dominated fields, it’s hard to differentiate oneself and point out pay inequalities. For women with broader interests, consider a career that has been traditionally male-dominated where progressive leaders are actively trying to recruit a female workforce.

6. Women need to embrace synergistic energy.

Expecting women to modify their innate abilities and skills to adapt to the male-oriented culture fails both the individual and the team. When men and women bring their natural talents to the table, everyone benefits.

7. Speak out against the wage gap.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to make anyone’s voice heard. Even writing to the local newspaper can go a long way. Discussing these issues and educating people on them is part of the path to achieving gender equality.

8. Encourage ALL genders to help women succeed in the workplace.

Men are an integral part of the fight for wage equality. Initiatives like the UN’s HeForShe encourage men to help women to successfully achieve gender equality, which includes toppling the pay gap. This global movement focused on engaging men in the fight to put a stop to inequalities faced by women, be they social, political, or economical. As of October 2015, nearly half a million men from every continent had pledged their support and their voices to women as they work together to end discrimination.

9. Ensure access to affordable childcare.

When women — especially women making minimum wage — have access to affordable childcare, they’re able to stay in the workforce longer.