Researchers from Cambridge and Warwick universities in the UK and Lakehead Univrsity in Canada have undertaken a large scale survey of pay gaps between men and women in 20 industrialised countries – with interesting results.
The researchers analysed statistics for the proportion of men and women in different occupations and average pay gaps to highlight the relationship between gender ‘workplace segregation’ and pay gaps.
Women earn less money the more men and women share the same occupations
- The more the sexes keep to different professions and trades, the more equal average pay between the genders
- If there are fewer men in an occupation, there are more opportunities for women to move into top, high-paying jobs
- If there are more balanced numbers of men and women in an occupation, men will dominate the high paying roles
- The less women are ‘in competition’ with men, the more likely they are to attain high level roles
- In only one country – Slovenia - do women on average earn [slightly] more than men
- Other ‘top scoring’ countries were Mexico, Brazil and Hungary. On average, women earn almost as much as men in these countries
- What links these countries is that men and women work in different occupations to a greater extent than in many of the other countries researched
- In countries such as Japan, the Czech Republic, Austria and Netherlands, women are more likely to work in the same occupations as men, and the gap between their pay and men’s is higher than average.
The researchers conclude that the segregation of occupations should not necessarily be interpreted as ‘inequality’. The picture is much more complicated than that, and reflects the continuing changes in the wider workplace, in women’s education and training levels and in people’s attitudes to the ‘nature’ of work and work/life balance.
The research has just been published in the latest issue of Sociology.