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Global Wage Report: What lies behind gender pay gaps


Global wage growth lowest since 2008, while women still earning 20 per cent less than men


The new ILO Global Wage Report  examines the evolution of real wages around the world, giving a unique picture of wage trends globally and by region.


The report calculates also gender pay gaps in innovative and more accurate ways, using data covering some 70 countries and about 80 per cent of wage employees worldwide. It finds that globally women continue to be paid approximately 20 per cent less than men.



“The gender pay gap represents one of today’s greatest manifestations of social injustice, and all countries should try to better understand what lies behind them and accelerate progress towards gender equality,” said Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General



The report finds that in high-income countries it is at the high end of the pay scale that the gender pay gap is wider, while in low- and middle-income countries the gender pay gap is wider amongst the lower paid workers.



Using empirical evidence, the report also shows that traditional explanations, such as differences in the levels of education between men and women who work in paid employment, play a limited role in explaining gender pay gaps.



“In many countries women are more highly educated than men but earn lower wages, even when they work in the same occupational categories,” said Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, econometrician and wage specialist at the ILO and one of the authors of the report. “The wages of both men and women also tend to be lower in enterprises and occupations with a predominantly female workforce. To reduce gender pay gaps more emphasis therefore needs to be placed on ensuring equal pay for women and men, and on addressing the undervaluation of women’s work,” she said.



Another factor which weighs on the gender wage gap is motherhood. The report shows that mothers tend to have lower wages compared to non-mothers. This may be related to a host of factors, including labour market interruptions, reductions in working time, employment in more family-friendly jobs with lower wages, or stereotypical promotion decisions at enterprise level.



According to the report, a more equitable sharing of family duties between men and women would in many instances lead to women making different occupational choices.



Surprisingly, the evidence shows that even before women reach motherhood, there is already a pay gap. This suggests a need to combat stereotypes and discrimination at the point of entry into the labour market.



ILO expert Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez looks at the latest findings on the gender pay gap from the ILO’s Global wage report 2018-2019. Closing this gap is key to achieving social justice for working women and achieving the 2030 sustainable development goals.



See Executive summary  of report here 



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