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Gender Pay Disparity | Why Women are Earning Less than Men?



Gender equality is still a distant dream in India. Despite being so much noise and activism for equality among the two sexes; as per the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2018, India still ranks 108th out of 149 countries on the gender gap index. Majority of the gender discrimination is against women in several ralms including workplace.


In terms of wage equality, India is at 72nd position globally. However, it is at 142nd rank, if we talk about participation and economic opportunity subindex. Iceland tops the list with being able to close over 85 percent of overall gender gaps. This massive difference has occured due to the increasing difference between unequal pay and the gender pay gap.


What is the Difference Between Unequal Pay and Gender Pay Gap


Unequal pay is a condition where men are paid more than women for performing the same work. To fix this, governments all over the world have legally enforced equal pay in organized sectors. However, gender pay gap measures the gap in overall earning of women and men. It is calculated by factoring in several parameters to the total number of employed men and women. It doesn’t account for women who are not working voluntarily or are on a short sabbatical.


What is the Gender Pay Gap?


Gender pay gap is the average difference between the earnings of working women and men. There are two types of gender pay gap:


  • Unadjusted Pay Gap: It is simply the difference between median and mean wages of men and women.


  • Adjusted Pay Gap: It considers multiple factors including education, occupation, job experience to calculate the gender pay gap. Here, the difference is more.


What Contributes to the Gap in India


Gender pay gap arises from the difference in the number of working men and women. It also happens due to the difference in work tenure and sabbaticals.


However, in India, the reasons causing gender pay are more complicated. They are linked to reasons ranging from structural to socioeconomic. Here are some pertinent ones:


  • Many young girls in India are kept out of school or forced to drop out of school at an elementary stage

  • Many families do not allow women to step out for work

  • Working women often extended leaves due to healthcare of family members, maternity, or child care

  • Due to poor women security, many women are unable to work in night shifts like men


All the above mentioned factors contribute significantly in increasing the pay disparity among men and women. As a result, the gender pay gap in India is massive. As per the Monster Salary Index (MSI), 2019, women in India earn at least 19 percent less than men. The median gross hourly salary for men was pegged at ₹242.49 in 2018, and ₹196.3 for women. This means, men earned ₹46.19 per hour more than women.


The gender pay disparity is across multiple industries including IT where the pay gap was 26 percent and in manufacturing the difference between the earnings of men and women was at 24 percent. Another research report from diversity and inclusion consulting firm Avtar Group reflects that equally qualified women are paid 34% less than men for doing the same job.


However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Pay disparity is greater in unorganized sectors including agriculture where women are paid significantly citing lesser physical strength.


Even when the work demands physical labour, the pay gap is forbidden by the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. However, there is not strict enforcement of the law to ensure equal wages for both genders. Improvement won’t happen in the absence of economic growth that can help in reducing the gap between demand and supply of workforce.


How to Control Pay Disparity?


As per the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2020, the pay disparity among men and women will be abolished in 257 years. The study included 153 countries in which Indian ranks at 112th spot on the overall Global Gender Gap Index.


However, there is evidence that gender is an economic and business imperative. As per the joint report by Bain & Company and Google, women entrepreneurs can generate significant employment with over 150 million job opportunities. It is over 25 percent of the new job opportunities required for the entire working population by 2030.


Businesses need to step up and address social issues by debating issues including patriarchy and sexism. This will educate both men and women about the criticality and socio-economic impact of such issues.


Organizations need to offer greater flexibility to returning mothers to easily adjust maternal responsibilities along with professional tasks. This will enable them to focus more on their careers instead of contemplating to quit. Remote work can enable new mothers to efficiently work from home while taking care of their kids.


We also need to eliminate social stigma that is attached to working women. Safer work environments should be created to encourage women to be part of the thriving workforce. Women are always conditioned to be nurturing and the ones who avoid conflict. However, they must realise that it is the right of every woman to ask for what they deserve without any guilt or hesitation.


The government also needs to show greater commitment to curb gender pay disparity. It should chalk out a robust plan that enforces stricter regulations for the unorganized sector, create more job opportunities, and end the systematic corruption. With such measures in place, employers will be left with no option to continue with gender pay disparity.


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