The disparity in economic and political opportunities for men and women has always been a problem, but there are signs of improvement, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018 Global Gender Report. Some countries are faring better than others, depending on what aspect of equality is examined.
In its annual report, the WEF reviewed share of men and women working, economic opportunities, educational attainment, health status, and political empowerment, to measure overall gender equality in 149 countries. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed for each country the ratio of male to female pay.
Women in many countries, especially those with more advanced economies, are relatively well educated but paid relatively little. About half of all 149 countries included in the report have a wage gap smaller than the average, which sees women making 65 cents for every dollar men make for similar work. The reasons vary from unequal parental responsibilities and political underrepresentation to deep-rooted gender stereotypes and men simply asking for more money.
The countries with the smallest overall gender gaps are not necessarily the same as those that pay similar wages to men and women for similar work. In fact, only three are in the top 10 of both rankings — Iceland, Finland, and the Philippines. And only in three of the 149 countries included in the report do women earn more than men — Burundi, Cameroon, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Some people may assume that more developed countries treat women more fairly, but this is not true in all cases. If current rates of closing the gap are maintained, then it will completely close in 61 years in Western Europe. By contrast, it will take 171 years in East Asia and the Pacific, 165 years in North America, 153 years in the Middle East, 135 years in Sub-Saharan Africa, 74 years in Latin America and the Caribbean 70 years in South Asia.
Small wage gaps do not necessarily indicate equal employment opportunities. Some countries, such as Oman and Algeria, have similar pay for the same jobs, but the problem is that fewer women are employed in those jobs.
While some countries treat women better than others, and improvements have been made over the last few years, not one country offers even close to completely equal opportunities, despite laws mandating otherwise. Even countries with the smallest wage gaps have women making around 80 cents on the dollar.
The following list is based on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Gender Report, which compares 149 countries and their progress toward gender parity. One of the dimensions is economic participation and opportunity, which includes wage equality for similar work. The estimated annual income for men and women, as well as the share of women working and in top positions, also came from the report.