Why is there a gender pay gap? Know the real reasons behind this

Today, I am going to tell you a story about three harmless words and how their union created an explosion. Gender pay gap.

When someone asks you for the gender pay gap definition and you respond with “oh, it is the difference between the wages earned by men and women”; you are not wrong, but you are at least a hundred miles away from the right.

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So, what is gender pay gap and why does it exist?

Gender pay gap is the average numerical difference in the pay of men and women, preferably while doing equal work which can be derived in two forms: non-adjusted pay gap and adjusted pay gap. Non-adjusted pay gap is the total average of the wages of men and women to give a basic idea of the situation, while adjusted pay gap is the more remotely researched, specific practice; where the average difference is found out by taking into consideration, the hours worked, the labor put in, the place of occupation, the career chosen, the educational qualifications and many more.

Before we jump into why it exists, here are some gender pay gap statistics that will really open your eyes and help you read the rest!

The adjusted pay gap in the USA is 95% which means for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 95 cents for the same job. Does this seem a little unjust? Oh, it gets worse. Way worse.

Gender pay gap statistics

Let’s focus more on non-adjusted statistics here because it works better while showing the whole picture, and see the gender pay statistics by country. (Data taken from accounting years spanning from 2010-2015, from the World Economic Forum)

  • Italy- 5.56%
  • France- 13.67%
  • Australia- 15.38%
  • Canada- 18.63%
  • India- 19% (Economic times)
  • Japan- 25.87%
  • South Korea- 36.65%

So yeah, it is depressing. But, why is there a gender pay gap? What are some of the reasons for the non-exhaustible list of excuses?

Why is there a gender pay gap?

1. Limiting women to occupations “best suited” for her

How considerate, right? Women right from the pre-historic times are considered to be better at sympathy and empathy, more patient and better at caring. This is why the kids in first grade draw a woman when the question is to describe a maid or a nurse.

Women are socially accepted as better caregivers, which makes them better teachers, childcare workers, front office workers, assistants and many more. Till here, it seems like a compliment but there is a plot twist. This ‘quality’ makes them less efficient for jobs that require a great amount of energy, decision making, controlling and basically being a boss, which resulted in just 41 women being in the CEO list of the fortune 500 companies and a mere 3.7% of women sitting in the CEO and managing director positions of all the NSE (National Stock Exchange) listed companies.


So, is there a solution to this problem? Yes, Stop assuming. The skillset and the quality of the work of an employee should be and should only be the parameter on which his/her/their pay scale is based upon.

Let’s take an example from pop culture for this one; How I Met your Mother is a world-famous sitcom that explains the story of how Ted met his wife while creating memories with his four best friends. Ted, played by Josh Radnor was the main character, but I know you will remember Barney Stinson more than that. Neil Patrick Harris used to make 400,000 dollars an episode, double the amount given to the other main characters. Why? Because the audience used to love him and wanted to see his character more than the others. His portrayal of the character a.k.a. acting skills got him those bags, just how he deserved.

2. Part time jobs and lack of time

As she becomes a mother, sometimes she is forced to stay at home, many times she chooses it for her baby. Kudos to you, moms! But, how can this be a restriction to the quality of work she can do? Why is it that, for all genders, part time jobs are less respected and acknowledged than full time jobs? Because we live in a society where the more senior your position is, the more hours you’ll need to exhaust yourself with work, so many people with amazing talents and qualifications, who just don’t have enough time lose their opportunities.

This not only impacts their lives but also the economy of the country when you see the big picture.


The only solution for this is to create flexible work timings that suit everyone and this has never been this easy ever since online meetings and classes have become normal. We have proved to ourselves that we can work from anywhere for anyone.

I could be a great example for this one, because I am right here on my balcony, sitting on my favorite chair, the rain pouring in front of me, while I am writing this essay. No, I didn’t need an office.

3. The inherited seniority

Because in the past, there were more men in the different occupational sectors, most of the senior positions are today taken up by men, senior men. This gives off an impression that companies will flourish better when the system is controlled by men but with equality in the workforce.

Now, there are exceptions, boss ladies are all around the world, few and strong. Discrimination against their intellectual capacities is still a big deal and the ordeals they would have had to face in order to reach those top positions is itself a good reason for the lack of senior women in companies.

4. Paying less for the same work

Some people, at some point, decided that women are the secondary gender and so even while paying them for their work, the wages will be secondary. And millions of free-minded people decided to follow their valuable instructions and follow this tradition. This is a problem that’s seen in all sectors of work, whether it be entertainment or lack of it. Studies have also shown that more men than women go to complain and ask for the wages they deserve as men are seen to be more assertive and vocal.

But I can strongly say we live in a progressive society where people are trying to change and helping others to change too. This degradation of other genders didn’t happen in a day, so pulling them up back to equality also will take its own time. Equal pay for equal work is the concept of labor rights that individuals in the same workplace be given equal pay. If you or anyone you know, are denied equal pay, please make them aware of their rights and help them reach out to Human Resource office or any legal institutions for this biased treatment. Know more here.

5. Mother more than any other

Did I save the best for the last? I think I might have. Let us consider two employees who work together in the same position, in the same office; they get married and continue working side by side. They have a kid and the mother gets her maternity leave. As a father who wants to take equal care of his baby, he wants to put in equal effort too. And as a husband who loves her wife, he wants to help her too. But since there is an unequal leave policy for fathers and mothers, he is forced to go to work; for his family.

Later the mother comes back to work, but by then the father had gotten promoted, and now she works under him. She has to take more leaves of absence for their child as he grows. If the father takes leaves, that will affect his work more as he is more senior than her.

She chose to do it, she wasn’t forced; but the only reason she chose this is because she had no other choice.

Why is gender pay gap an important issue?

If someone asks you, ‘hey dude, what are the causes of gender pay gap’ you know what to say But still, there are so many gender pay gap facts that have been reviewed as myths recently. Many organizations, in order to gain attention, tend to bend their data and exaggerate it. Numbers on the internet may not speak entire truths, but the people in your lives do.

Gender pay gap is an important issue we need to be aware of; now more than ever; because we live in a society where non binary people are also coming out and needs our support. It is not just for the millions of women and men at disadvantage; but also the third gender who are discriminated and humiliated at their work places.

Why is there a gender pay gap? The reasons are many. How can we reduce the gender pay gap? Raise your voice for yourself and for those who deserve your voice. This is the era of inclusivity, so let us rightly exclude unwanted gaps and holes.

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