Why Education Won’t End the Gender Pay Gap
Lead researcher Stephanie Seguino looked at education, wage, and employment data on more than 150 countries covering the years 1990-2010. Although the educational gap between women and men is only 9%, women are employed at 70% the rate of men—a 30% gap. In some regions of Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, the gap is even higher. Job segregation continues to be a problem, according to the study, with women often participating in relatively low-paid, low-status occupations.
In more than half of the world, women have educational attainments similar to or greater than those of men. According to 2015 data from the United States Census Bureau, more women than men now hold bachelor’s degrees. Among people ages 25-34, 37.5% of women have bachelor’s degrees, compared to 29.5% of men.
Women’s political representation rate compared to men is 25%. Seguino believes this can worsen gender inequality, because governments in which men are disproportionately represented are more likely to spend money on programs that benefit men.
Understanding the Gender Pay Gap
In another study, researchers found women made less than men on eBay, even when all other factors—including eBay experience and the items being sold—were the same.
The pay gap can also have far-reaching implications for women’s mental health. A 2016 study found the wage gap might help explain why women are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition than men.
What Can Fix the Pay Gap?
Seguino says gender stereotypes and issues such as inadequate child care may figure more prominently than education in the gender pay gap.
The study suggests some measures that could help. Countries that have prioritized gender equality have achieved better outcomes. Canada requires the government to ensure women are represented at 50%. Norway requires equitable representation of women on company boards. In addition to these measures, the study recommends increased access to affordable child care, hiring practices that promote diversity, improved access to and quality of public transportation, and paid parental leave.
- Bauman, K., & Ryan, C. (2015, October 7). Women now at the head of the class, lead men in college attainment. Retrieved from http://blogs.census.gov/2015/10/07/women-now-at-the-head-of-the-class-lead-men-in-college-attainment/?cid=RS23
- Seguino, S. (2016). Global trends in gender equality [PDF]. Journal of African Development, 1-30.
- The global gender gap report 2014 [PDF]. (2014). Geneva: World Economic Forum.
- Why education doesn’t bring women equal pay. (2016, April 15). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/uov-wed041216.php
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