In India, we have a law for Equal Pay for Equal Work under the Equal Remuneration Act 1976. The act highlights that it is the
“Duty of the employer to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. — (1) No employer shall pay to any worker, employed by him in an establishment or employment, remuneration, whether payable in cash or in kind, at rates less favourable than those at which remuneration is paid by him to the workers of the opposite sex in such establishment or employment for performing the same work or work of a similar nature”.
Even so, data suggests that the Gender Pay Gap in India is alive and well. According to the Monster Salary Index on gender (2016), the median gross hourly salary for men was Rs. 345.8 where was it was Rs. 259.8 for women.
The gender pay gap on average was 25% in 2016. This figure varies across industries, however. In the manufacturing sector, the gender pay gap was 29.9% whereas in the IT sector it was a whopping 38.2% as per the 2016 data. (See the table for industry wise Gender Pay Gap Figures)
|Sector||Average Gender Pay Gap|
|Construction and Technical Consultancy||18.1%|
|Financial Services, Banking and Insurance||21.5%|
|Education and Research||14.7%*|
|Healthcare, Caring Services and Social Work||22.6%|
|Transport, Logistics, and Communications||7.7%|
|Legal and Market Consultancy and Business Activities||27.5%|
* The only industry where gender pay gap decreased to -3.4% from 2015- 2016, however, the average from 2014-2016 remains at 14.7%.
Source: Monster Salary Index (MSI)
Gender Pay Gap Around the World
Gender Pay Gap is the average difference between a man and woman’s remuneration. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, India ranks at a disappointing 87 in the Global Gender Gap Rankings (which tracks data for 135 countries) which includes the following criteria; Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.
In the Middle East, only Israel outperforms India with a rank of 49 with other countries trailing behind India, which is not really a surprise, with fewer women in the workforce and socio-cultural restrictions on women.
Also Read: A Crash Course on Workplace Gender Biases
China ranks at an abysmal 99, which is surprising considering the women’s labour force participation is higher than that in India.
Iceland tops the charts, followed by Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland.
What causes the Gender Pay Gap?
- Preference to promote men to leadership or supervisory positions. This may come from socio-cultural biases for instance: “Men are better leaders”, “Men will listen to other Men”, etc. These can also be more pronounced in some masculine cultures.
- Negotiations for Salary: it has been shown men are four times as likely to start conversations related to negotiations as compared to women. Thereby if a man and a woman apply for the same job, the man is likely to end up with a higher salary by virtue of having negotiated, and the woman a lower salary. This difference adds up over the years.
- Applying for Jobs: Men apply for jobs even if they match 60% of the job description, women when they match 100% of Job Description. This implies that men are probably applying and getting jobs which have better pays, while women are holding themselves back.
- Lack of Support for Child Care: Maternity leave policies are severely lacking in many parts of the world, along with unavailability flexible working, women may have to restrict themselves due to childcare. India has recently increased paid maternity leave up to 26 weeks, however, there still may be normative rules which prevent women from capitalizing on it. Similarly, Paternity leave is non-existent – and even if it does exist, there is a normative pressure to only take a few days off. The disproportionate division of labour related to housework and childcare also contributes to the pay gap.
What can be done to close the gap?
World Economic Forum has said women may have to wait 217 years for the Gender Pay Gap to close. What can be done on a social and institutional and regulatory level to ensure wage parity?
Companies need to actively invest in training and staff that can sensitize people to the issue of the gender pay gap and how our conditioning and biases can influence it. Active consideration should be made to consider women for leadership roles.
This can be buttressed by mentoring schemes, leadership workshops for women. Organizations should not shy away from addressing sensitive topics like patriarchy and sexism in their discussions to educate and inform its workforce.
Women too have a role to play, they must realise that it is okay to negotiate. We have been conditioned to be nurturing and avoid conflict. However, you are worthy, and you are skilled – so don’t shy away from asking for what’s rightly yours.
So, apply for that job you think may be out of your reach, and negotiate for a better starting salary. The men are doing it, it’s time we started too.
Featured Image Credit: Lisa Simpson Has Asperger’s