Women in the workforce have faced discrimination when it comes to wages compared to their male counterparts. Though feminist movements, campaigns and painstaking efforts by women rights groups have helped raise awareness on the issue, a recent report provides interesting data points which can aid policymakers and corporates to work on reducing the gap.
The gender wage gap widens at age 32, starting with women earning 90% the wages of men, and decreasing to women earning 82% the wages of men by age 40, reveals a US study on gender pay gap conducted by Visier, a data analytics firm.
Women are under-represented in manager positions from the age of 32 onwards.
women are often discriminated against when they come back from maternity leave
The widening of gender gap post 32 translates into the under-representation of women in managerial roles and a larger proportion of men hold manager positions than the proportion of women, which increases to as much as a 10 point gap by age 43.
In 2015, across all age groups, 16% of male employees and 12% of female employees held manager positions. Across all age groups, women managers made up 35% of the total (male and female) manager population.
The study covered 165,000 employees across 31 blue-chip companies, including 11 Fortune 1000 companies. Visier focused on how the wage gap changes as workers progress in their careers and the impact that generational differences might have.
SNAPSHOT FROM INDIA INC
Non profit firm Catalyst tells SheThePeople.TV that their findings show that the gender pay gap in India is significant.
“As per Catalyst’s High Potentials Under High Pressure in India’s Technology Sector report, women and men in the technology sector start out with equal pay, responsibility and aspirations. However, a gender gap emerges over time. The report found that 12 years into their careers, women lagged behind men in terms of pay, receiving Rs. 3.8 lakhs lesser salary than men,” said Shachi Irde, Executive Director, Catalyst India WRC.
Sairee Chahal, the founder of SHEROES, a start-up which helps women find career and mentoring opportunities also concurs, citing socio-cultural factors. “From an Indian perspective, I would say the median age for widening of the gender gap in India would be 27, as women are married earlier in India and tend to have kids between 26-29 years, which is range where we see many women leaving the workforce. They have 3-4 years of work-ex and just before they are about to enter managerial roles, they take a break due to maternal needs,” she said.
In May 2016, a study by Monster India and IIM Ahmedabad revealed that India faces a gender gap of 27% — while men earned a median gross hourly salary of Rs 288.68, women earned only a median gross salary of Rs 207.85 per hour.
That’s a gap of Rs 646 per day assuming an eight hour work-day.
The highest gender pay gap was recorded in the manufacturing sector at 34.9%. The lowest gender pay gap was recorded in the BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) and transport, logistics, communication, equally standing at 17.7 % each.
“In India, the issue of gender pay gap is secondary as we are still struggling to get women in the workforce, whereas in the US, the workforce participation rate is much higher,” said Chahal.
Bearing a child impacts female workforce participation
The Visier report observed that there is a pronounced dip in the percentage of women in the workforce between the ages of 25 and 40, the age range in which women bear children generally. This dip recovers after 39, around the same time most women who have children would see the last of those children entering primary school.
“The wage gap definitely widens at the mid-level managerial positions as women go up the ladder therefore, this study points to the right direction,” said Aparna Jain, Founder of Zebraa, a corporate training firm. She also highlights the perception from employers (even in India Inc) that women may not “need the money” because they are presumably married and not the primary bread-winner.
And that’s not all — women are often discriminated against when they come back from maternity leave.
“The gender wage gap is low at (a) junior level and high at senior levels. In India, various reports suggest that wage gap widens drastically for age group 30-40,” said Jyotika Singh, Founder of RelauncHER, an initiative to bring experienced women back to the workforce post- maternity leave.
“In India, there are only 24% women in the middle management and 6% women in senior management. At mid managerial levels family commitments affect the wages dramatically as women need and prefer flexibility and hence have to compromise on their promotions and consequently salaries.”
Singh was working as creative head when she decided to take a break to raise her little boys. After three years, she tried making a comeback to the corporate world but as she started her job hunt, says she faced the vicious reality of employers’ biases against women who take career breaks.
Despite a great resume and portfolio, her decision to quit was questioned and there were doubts on her commitment to work — all of which inspired her to launch RelauncHER in 2013.
However, several firms are indeed working hard to address the issue, Chahal feels. “New age firms like Flipkart, Paytm, InMobi, etc and even bigger ones like Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group, are making conscious efforts to address/eliminate the pay gap,” she says.
But much more needs to be done — even within these sectors.
“The existing pay discrimination shows that an urgent change in mindset and work culture is required. Organisations should therefore ensure that there is an effective pay gap analysis process in place, which helps in identifying the existing gaps and take effective measures to bridge them.” Irde concludes.
Whether that’s feasible for many Indian firms, or even on their agenda, remains to be seen.