Gender pay-gap, still alive and kicking…


Gender pay disparity and juggling work and home are the most critical issues for women working in the G20 countries, according to a perception poll released today by the Thomson Reuters Foundation with support from The Rockefeller Foundation. Conducted by Ipsos MORI, the survey of more than 9,500 women in 19 nations in the G20 (excluding the European Union) uncovers the five biggest challenges faced by women at work.

The survey finds that 44% of the women questioned identified work-life balance as their top concern in the workplace. Receiving equal pay to men doing the same job was the second biggest concern (39%), followed by lack of flexible working hours (32%), having access to the same career opportunities as men Work-life balance is ranked as the top concern in Russia and four of the five Asian G20 countries (South Korea, India, China and Japan), where women mostly quote cultural expectations and the lack of flexible working hours as some of the main ongoing issues. Women in South Africa and Mexico expressed the least concern about work-life balance.

The report reveals that four in every 10 women see the gender pay gap as a key issue, with seven nations listing this discrepancy as the major challenge for women. France, Germany and the United States lead the table of the countries where women are concerned the most about inequality of pay despite recent World Economic Forum data indicating these economies have, in fact, some of the narrowest pay gaps among G20 nations. Women in Britain, Australia, Brazil, and Canada also ranked the gender pay gap as their biggest workplace worry, while in China women expressed the least concern.

Harassment in the workplace is also among the five top critical issues, flagged by women in Turkey, Mexico and Argentina as the key challenge at work, and identified by 29% of women overall as a major concern. Nearly one third of women in the poll admit to having experienced harassment, although more than 60% do not report it. Indian women are the most likely to speak up, a change of attitude since the fatal attack of a female student on a bus in Delhi in 2012. The incident sparked widespread protests about violence against women, and the poll now finds 53% of women say they would always or most of the time report harassment. Women in South Korea are the least likely to report harassment.

“The poll shows that when women see a real possibility for change, they seize it. India is the perfect example. Women are finding the courage to speak up and demand fairer treatment,” said Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “On the contrary, in countries where expectations are low, as in Turkey, women tend to remain silent, as they perceive inequality as part of the status quo. That is why it’s so important to go beyond the hard data and bring women’s perception into the picture.

“The poll highlights a clear gap between women’s expectations job and career opportunities and the reality on the ground—but it also shows us that there is reason to hope. If we can raise expectations through policy and practice, the findings indicate that we can accelerate progress for women around the world,” said Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s our collective duty to make sure that this research translates into changing perception and concrete action that ultimately leads to more inclusive economies for all—when women and men are given the same opportunities, everyone wins.”

The poll also uncovers positive trends. Younger women, in the so-called Millennial generation, are more upbeat than older colleagues when it comes to their role in the workplace. The survey finds 40% of women aged under 35 believe they have the same chance of success as men in having their own business compared to 33% of women aged 50 to 64. Younger women are also more optimistic about earning equal pay to men and having children without damaging their career.

A recent report from McKinsey Global Institute published earlier this month shows that tackling workplace inequality could boost the global economy by $12 trillion over the next 10 years.

The poll findings are available on line on the site


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