Why are women paid less than men? | The Economist



The gender pay gap is not caused by women earning less than men for the same job. It is largely because women choose different careers and suffer a “motherhood penalty”’.

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Women who work full-time, still earn 15% less than men. But that’s not because they are paid less for the same jobs. It’s because they’re in different jobs.

Women are in less senior jobs. In Britain, France and Germany, 80-90% of executive jobs are held by men. Women also tend to choose different occupations.

In America over 80% of teachers, nurses, secretaries, and health workers are female and these jobs tend to be lower paid. Primary school teachers in the West earn nearly 20% less than the average graduate job.

Nurses earn less than police officers. Cleaners less than caretakers.

Women are as ambitious as men. They earn the majority of university degrees. In America, they now ask for promotions as often as men.

But it’s the price women pay for motherhood that holds them back. In Britain, 70% of mothers reduced their working hours or switched to a less demanding job compared with 11% of fathers.

In Australia it’s 56% of mothers and 19% of fathers, while in France 55% of mothers scaled back compared to 13% of fathers.

When an American women goes back to work her salary is on average lower than it would have been if she hadn’t had a child.

The race for gender equality is far from over. As more children choose non-traditional careers and men do more childcare, fewer working women will be held back.

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