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ILO: Labor and Wage Gender Gap Remains Wide

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Women scientists are seen working in research lab in Jakarta, Indonesia.

FILE - Women scientists are seen working in research lab in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The International Labor Organization reports gender equality in the workplace remains elusive. In advance of International Women’s Day, a new ILO report - “Women at Work: Trends 2016”- finds millions of women worldwide are not getting the same kind of quality, well-paying jobs as men.

New data in 178 countries present a gloomy picture of the current state of working women. The International Labor Organization's report shows the gender gap in employment, wages and social protection has changed little in 20 years.

The report notes significant progress has been made by women in education during the past two decades, but this has not translated into improvements at work. The data show women are less likely to participate in the labor market then men.

ILO research department deputy director Lawrence Johnson says last year nearly 1.3 billion women were employed globally, compared to two billion men.

“At the global level, the employment gender gap has closed only by 0.6 percent between 1995 and 2015. This means progress getting women into more jobs is either insufficient or has flatlined," said Johnson.

The Global Gender Gap Index rates more than 140 countries, ranking the world's most and least equal countries for women and men, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.

The Global Gender Gap Index rates more than 140 countries, ranking the world's most and least equal countries for women and men, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.


The report shows women are more likely to be unemployed than men, and young women in particular are at a disadvantage. It says women continue to work longer hours per day than men in both paid and unpaid work. In high- and low-income countries alike, it finds women, on average, carry out at least 2.5 times more unpaid household and care-giving work.

Johnson says women are overrepresented in clerical service and sales work, which are among the lowest paying jobs.

“Based on existing estimates, women earn less than their male counterparts. The gender wage gap is estimated at 23 percent. Though there has been some movement in reducing the gender wage gap, it will take by my estimate more than 70 years to achieve equality if all things are equal at this point," he said.

Since women both work and earn less money, the report says they lose out in terms of social and retirement benefits. Globally, women represent nearly 65 percent of people who have reached retirement age without any regular pension.

This, says the ILO, means some 200 million women are living without any regular income from an old age or survivor’s pension, compared to 115 million men.

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