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Men and women have historically earned different levels of remuneration, but in the United States the gap has narrowed substantially since the 1980s. Other countries aren’t so fortunate, however, and women in several nations still experience significant financial discrimination. While the gender pay gap varies depending on the type of work and education level of the positions, the overall gap is a telling statistic on how women have a long way to go before they can truly achieve equality.
Germany is third among developed countries with a gender wage gap of 21 percent. The situation occurs mainly because more women work in part-time jobs that pay lower rates than full-time work, rather than inequality between male and female wages. Although not in the top 5, America isn’t immune to this problem. “The Economist” magazine reports that American women earn only 82.2 percent of the compensation paid to men across all occupations. The gap increases among women with children, who earn 22 percent less than men. This has been dubbed “the mommy penalty.”
China follows as fourth overall with 26 percent, and is second on the list of emerging countries. The major reason for the increasing gap is China’s move toward an industrialized nation, where blue-collar workers are prized. Due to the often physical nature of the work, the gender gap is most obvious among blue-collar workers, where jobs require little skill or education. This has led to economists suggesting China has a “sticky floor” problem, rather than a “glass ceiling” issue. The vast pool of labor available means workers compete for jobs, and women are more prepared to lower their expectations to secure an income to support their families.
Japan is third overall with a gap of 29 percent, and second among developed nations. A study by the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training found that it was based mainly on occupational disparity, as opposed to gender discrimination. The types of work that Japanese women traditionally take on include health service workers, clerical workers and professional and technical workers. The report also found that as the percentage of women workers in an industry increased, the remuneration dropped proportionately for both male and female workers.
2 South Africa
Next in line with a gap of 31 percent in 2013 is South Africa, which ranks top of the list of emerging nations. The issue in this country relates mostly to wages among the historically disadvantaged, black African population, and doesn’t affect the mostly educated white population to the same degree. This effectively means that when compared with black men, black women in South Africa work for free four months of each year.
With a gap of 39 percent between men and women, South Korea shows the largest difference among developed countries. The gap is calculated on the gross earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. One of the primary reasons for the gap is the “child penalty” levied against women because of pregnancy and child care issues. After a stint on maternity leave, Korean women are not entitled to the same benefits as male full-time staff.