Why Are Women Still Paid Less?

During financial crises, money, as a rule, is lost by everyone – the only question is the amount of possible damage. Gender Pay Gap, the difference in wages between men and women, is one of the best illustrations of the importance of equality. But at the same time, it still remains one of the most controversial topics on the women’s agenda – many simply do not believe that there is a pay gap.

A few years ago in the full authorities press – time or Forbes – it was possible to encounter the opinion that the pay gap, that is the difference in wages between men and women, these are myths. If they would change the statistics, point the wage gap, without considering the related circumstances: age, education, and so on.


But the Gender Pay Gap is an absolute fact. If you open the data from the International Labor Organization, you will see the pay gap estimates for each country. In any microeconomic study of individual income that is based on administrative data or household surveys, you will find that women always have lower incomes than men. Just before our conversation, I looked at the data collected by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for 35 countries (and I personally took part in this study) – there are also significant gender pay gaps in each country.

The pay gap can be measured in different ways. On the one hand, the difference between the median salary of all women and all men can be determined. According to such data, the wages of women in the world are on average 20% lower. The most significant pay gap among developed economies, for example, in South Korea or Estonia – there is 30%. In Europe – 10%, in Russia – 20-25%. The lowest pay gap is in Belgium and Luxembourg – four percent.

On the other hand, you can look at the difference in salaries between women and men at the same level of education, age, in the same sector – however, and there you will also find a pay gap. Third, full or part-time employment can be taken into account (women are more likely to work part-time).

Depending on the measurement method, you will get different results: in some countries, women have less education, they are less likely to work full-time, and so on. The question is how to account for this dimension of inequality. Education is an important factor that affects salary.

Gender equality advocates often hear that “men and women are different.” Men and women are, of course, physically different. Men are taller on average and stronger on average. Does this mean that every man is stronger than a woman? Of course not. But until recently, within the framework of the “protection of women” in many countries, including post-communist ones, they said: “We do not hire women for this job, because it is difficult – a strong person is needed here.” But why can’t even strong women get jobs where physical strength is important?

Most importantly, though, there are almost no physical strength-based jobs in today’s economy. Today, in advanced economies, the main employment is in the service sector, in which jobs are not tied to physical strength. 20% of people work in the industry, and a few percent in agriculture.


In the world pay gap, there is another factor of origin. Latin American women earn 91 cents for every dollar of a Latin American male, but Latin American women earn 54 cents for every dollar of a white man. That is, ethnic is supervised on gender discrimination.

In France, it is forbidden to collect data on ethnicity. The researchers use names that, of course, strongly correlate with ethnicity and religion. Studies show that if your name is Mohammed, then you are treated differently in the labor market. But the public sector also managed to get rid of discrimination against people from Muslim countries. This, however, is not about migrants, but about “migrants in the second generation” – they have different names, and they just look different.

The pay gap has dropped significantly in recent decades (although it has just stopped declining recently). Of course, the countries of “victorious feminism” are, first of all, the northern countries. These are countries where quotas have been introduced long ago, for example, on boards of directors. There are nearly twice as many women in the Finnish government as men. But in France, this is not the first time the government adheres to the “50-50” rule, that is, half of the members of the government must be women.

Quotas play a very important role. Quotas, by the way, are symmetrical, they require not “40 percent of women”, but “of each gender at least 40 percent”. Often people do not understand and say that this is impossible: “40 + 40 does not give 100”. Of course, a 40% quota means that there maybe 40 to 60 percent of men. In the Nordic countries, quotas now protect the representation of men rather than women.

Anastasia Fetter

Anastasia Fetter