The gender pay gap remains wide as ever - GulfToday

The gender pay gap remains wide as ever

Gender equality

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

It’s a man’s world, diehard male chauvinists would say. They would buttress their argument with examples out of their hat: women cannot do a lot of jobs, such as heavy-duty projects in construction and engineering; they are not tailor-made for roles in war zones; they cannot do late-night duty in many companies for reasons of safety and security. Now there is another area where disparity seems to be blatant: the boardroom or high-profile executive jobs.

Most of the women running the biggest US companies saw their pay increase last year, even as the pandemic pummelled the economy and many of their businesses. Despite those gains, however, the median pay for female chief executives actually fell in 2020. Already a small group, they saw several top-ranking women leave their jobs last year. That means changes in pay for only a few helped skew the overall figures, highlighting just how slow diversity has been to catch on in Corporate America’s corner offices.

Efforts to close the gender pay gap risk stalling as countries recover from COVID-19, researchers said as a recent global poll showed almost a quarter of men thought the issue was “political correctness gone too far”.

Although the survey spanning 28 countries revealed nearly eight in 10 people considered it important to tackle wage differences between men and women, almost half of them did not think it should be a top priority during the health crisis.

More than one in 10 men said tackling the pay gap was not important, according to the poll published recently on International Women’s Day by Ipsos MORI and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) at King’s College London.

One in five men believed media reports about the issue were “fake news”.

The findings come amid growing evidence that women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

In March, a report said companies employing at least 250 people in the European Union will have to start providing data on gender pay gaps under a proposal by the bloc’s executive that comes as studies suggest the COVID-19 pandemic has hit female workers more than men.

Women make on average 14 per cent less in the 27-nation EU, meaning they end up working almost two months for free every year compared with men.

The gender pay gap differs from 1.4 per cent in Luxembourg to 21.8 per cent in Estonia, according to the European Commission.

It would introduce for the first time an obligation across the EU to report on pay disparities between female and male workers.

A report last year said advances in closing the worldwide gender pay gap are at risk of being reversed by the coronavirus, experts and advocates warn, as women take time off work to care for others and the low-paid sectors they dominate cut back hours and staff.

Women earn about a fifth less money than men around the world, reflecting factors from motherhood and employment in lower-wage jobs to stereotypes in promotion decisions, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The wage gap has been narrowing, but at the current rate it could still take 70 years to reach gender parity, according to UN Women.

The gap could increase this year as women are likely to be disproportionately affected by home responsibilities in quarantine and see their lower-wage jobs disappear, said Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary General and deputy executive director of the United Nations’ women’s agency.

“Women will end up bearing a big brunt,” she said.

“We have a lot of very supportive men in society but not enough, and we really need to work on the gender biases or the stereotypes that prevent equal sharing of care.”

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