All women on Earth earn about half as much as men – that has hardly changed since 1990

Women worldwide earn about a third of all labor income, but that doesn’t mean they work less.

This figure has hardly changed since 1990, although the number of women with a higher level of education in many countries has surpassed the number of men since then. Overall, women’s share of global labor income in the early 1990s was about 30 percent. Now that figure is just below 35 percent, according to the World Inequality Report 2022, the first report of its kind. It was written by leading experts on economic inequality, including Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez.

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“In a world of gender equality, women would earn 50 percent of all income from employment,” the authors write. “Over the past thirty years, global progress has been very slow, and the dynamics differ from country to country. Progress has been made in some countries, but in others there have been declines in women’s share of income.”

There are a number of structural reasons why the global workforce suffers from gender inequality: sexism keeps women from progressing in certain sectors, or excludes them completely in some professions. Moreover, women carry out a disproportionate share of care, for example for children and elderly relatives, as a result of which they do not seek paid work. The following chart from the report shows how little progress has been made in three decades:

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“This report makes it particularly clear that women’s work is undervalued,” Jasmine Tucker, research director for the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider. “Women are underpaid and the pay gap is spreading worldwide.”

While women tend to have more education than men, there are key factors explaining the gender pay gap, according to the report. Starting with the difference in value attributed to different types of work and the limited opportunities for career growth available to women.

In either case, access is the problem. Some sectors exclude women, and some limit the potential women can achieve once they work there.

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Women, for example, account for a low number of entry-level jobs in the automotive industry, a 2016 report by McKinsey found: just 26 percent.In North America, for example, the proportion has increased from 34 percent to 38 percent in three decades. It has even fallen in China.

The following graph from the report shows how women’s share of labor income has changed in different parts of the world:

“There are things we need to do to make sure that we’re moving in the right direction, that women account for 50 percent of all income at some point, and we need to make sure they can work if they want to,” said Tucker. This concerns matters such as an increase in the minimum wage and paid leave.

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One of the reasons for persistent disparities around the world is that women spend “significantly more time” than men on unpaid care work, such as caring for children. This applies in all areas. “Women’s labor is undervalued worldwide,” Tucker said. “Women disproportionately take on responsibilities in care. That’s a factor in women’s wages.”

The pandemic has only exacerbated that situation as women have taken on more caring responsibilities and in some cases have even left the workforce due to childcare issues, such as lack of childcare places. According to Tucker, the US can “do more” to support women who want to work.

“That would provide income for many families or increase income if women were only able to work part-time, or if they temporarily left the workforce due to the pandemic.”

Author: Jobly