Closing the global gender gap – whose job is it anyway?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Zara Nanu, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gapsquare

  • This year’s World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap says jobs in increasing demand (data science, AI, cyber, internet of things) are strongly male dominated and have higher annual salaries.
  • Within the list of top ten most equal countries this year, all have equal pay for equal value legislation, and eight have gender pay transparency legislation.
  • So to close the gap, businesses and policy-makers need to look at occupational segregation and career progression.

The release of the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report every year is a reminder of how many centuries away we are from achieving gender parity – and women’s jobs are no exception. This year, the report says we are still 257.2 years away from closing the gender gap in “economic participation” and “opportunity”.

At the same time, some analysts are talking about 2021 as the year self driving cars go mainstream. As a humanity – we are looking at human exploration of Mars as early as 2030. These incredible advancements are possible because of the use of data and tech. So how can we utilize the global gender gap data to achieve similar leaps in progress?

Before we dwell on the data, it’s important to understand that equality does not operate in isolation and is a moving part in the global economy. In my work as the CEO of a global pay gap analytics company, the conversation has long since moved beyond the value of one-off figures into understanding systems that underpin our socio-economic context.

Image: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021

Despite some progress this year, the wage gap (the ratio of the wage of a woman to that of a man in a similar position) is still approximately 37% and the income gap (the ratio of the total wage and non-wage income of women to that of men) remains close to 51%.

To understand some of these trends, I will be looking at UK data. Every year, companies with 250 employees or more report on their mean and median gaps, and the distribution of their workforce by quartiles, mapping employees in four groups of pay from lowest to highest. This data allows us to look at representation, occupation, and career progression for women.

There are many reasons why these gaps are stubbornly present, varying from equal pay to occupational segregation and women’s progress at work.

Of all of the gap drivers, we are increasingly coming close to creating equal pay for equal value. Within the list of top ten most equal countries this year, all have equal pay legislation. It’s the occupational segregation and career progression that contribute most to these gaps in economic participation and opportunity, and we have to look at them in the context of a changing global labour market.

A recent report on the Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum highlights the roles and positions which are set to increase or decrease in demand in the next five years. A simple look at these indicates that the jobs on the increase continue to be dominated by men, and they continue to be highly paid.

Image: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021

Jobs in increasing demand (data science, AI, cyber, internet of things) are strongly male dominated and average £44,500 per year. Jobs in increasing demand that are female dominated (business services and administrative managers, or business development managers), are at the lower end of the pay spectrum averaging about £28,053 per year. So even in roles of growing demand, women are likely to be in occupations that earn just over 60% of what men earn by 2025. If left unaddressed, occupational segregation could be expanding existing gaps in income.

But as I said before, these inequities do not exist on their own, and operate within wider economies and industries. In order to understand how represented women are across these industries, I’ve mapped the occupations based on the Standard Industrial Classification codes.

While cumulatively men continue to make up most of the workforce across these industries, five are moving close to a 50-50 representation.

Occupational segregation could be expanding existing gaps in income. Image: Gapsquare

However, most of the growing occupations and sectors have a clear larger proportion of men in the upper quartiles – even when it comes to administrative support or the retail sector which are dominated by women. The representation of women in these top echelons of businesses varies from 44% in services to 12% in construction or 20% in manufacturing.

How can we ensure career progression for women into the upper quartile? Image: Gapsquare

Not a single one of these industries has a higher representation of women in the upper quartile of the organization.

This data is important from several points of view. For policy-makers at national and international level, this is about creating inclusive policies that prevent large unemployment rates and foster thriving economies. The World Economic Forum report provides interesting insights.

Within the list of top ten most equal countries this year, all have equal pay for equal value legislation, and eight have gender pay transparency legislation.

The availability of UK data (driven by regulation) is making it possible for us to get insights into the trends so that we can utilize them to make the world of work fairer. The Equal Pay International Coalition is developing a guide to global equity legislation right now, and citizens, everywhere, are asking countries to do better.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank.

In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

For companies, this is about ensuring diverse talent can thrive, reskill and adapt to change. Diversity has long since been proven to foster innovation, and innovation is the central point around which our economy currently moves. Preempting and preventing loss of diversity opens opportunities to innovate the future of work in an inclusive and fair way. To do that we need to start with an understanding of why the future of work is so male dominated, and how we can ensure career progression for women into the upper quartile.

The changing landscape of jobs, coupled with the pandemic has prompted companies to rethink how they are constructing their businesses and why. The current scenario provides us with a unique opportunity to deconstruct many of these jobs and reassemble them in a way that works for everyone. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be watching people walk around on Mars in the next ten years, I want to enjoy the moment knowing that we live in a world of equality and fair pay. It’s a job for everyone to make it happen.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

FROM THE FIELD: India’s plastic waste revolution

Integration of migrants: Commission launches a public consultation and call for an expert group on the views of migrants

Human rights: breaches in Russia, the Rakhine State and Bahrain

How upskilling could help cities rebuild after Coronavirus

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

The female struggle in the face of medical devaluation

‘The welfare of the Libyan people’ the UN’s sole agenda for the country, says Guterres in Tripoli

Dare to be vulnerable, and three other lessons in leadership

How businesses can create an ethical culture in the age of tech

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Act now to prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in Horn of Africa: UN agencies

The most unlikely innovators are changing ICT for development – it’s time we took notice

What is environmental racism?

Climate change: cutting the good by the root?

Guterres condemns killing of Bangladeshi peacekeeper in South Sudan, during armed attack on UN convoy

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

More than speed: 5G could become the next big economic driver

Asylum: more solidarity among EU member states and funds for frontline countries

European Commission requests that Italy presents a revised draft budgetary plan for 2019

Greener tourism: Greater collaboration needed to tackle rising emissions

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Europe, US and Russia haggle over Ukraine’s convulsing body; Russians and Americans press on for an all out civil war

The “Colombo Declaration” adopted at the World Conference on Youth 2014

IMF: World cup and productivity

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

1.1 billion people still lack electricity. This could be the solution

5 leadership lessons I learned from doing my own ‘undercover boss’

If we want to solve climate change, water governance is our blueprint

The World Health Organization has called on countries to ‘test, test, test’ for coronavirus – this is why

EU budget: Commission helps prepare new Cohesion programmes with Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer

Catalonia secessionist leader takes Flemish ‘cover’; Spain risks more jingoist violence

Marriage equality boosted employment of both partners in US gay and lesbian couples

Europe had a record year for Measles – and it’s partly down to anti-vaccine campaigners

From Policy to Reality: Discrepancies in Universal Health Care Systems across the EU

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Early healthcare investment is our best chance at healthy ageing

The EU sides with China against the US; but has Germany capitulated to America?

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day

Educate children in their mother tongue, urges UN rights expert

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

Your chocolate can help save the planet. Here’s how

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

New rules to help consumers join forces to seek compensation

Thinking like Leonardo da Vinci will help children tackle climate change

Parliament approves EU rules requiring life-saving technologies in vehicles

World Bank downgrades global growth forecasts, poorest countries hardest hit

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

How to fix our planet: the pioneers fighting to bring nature back

How China Mended My Heart

Children are forgetting the names for plants and animals

Labels for tyres: deal for greener and safer road transport

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

The Ecofin deceives the SMEs with the EIB €10bn capital increase

Consumers suffer three defeats

Sexual exploitation and abuse: latest UN quarterly update

The economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world

New VAT rules in the EU: how a digital sea could have become an ocean

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s