• The International Labour Organisation (ILO) identifies the gender pay gap as a “measurable indicator” of gender inequality in the labor market.
  • The gender pay gap is defined as the disparity between the average wages of all women and all men employed in the labor market, whether on a monthly, hourly, or daily basis.
  • This gap reflects the overall difference in earnings between all working women and men, rather than the pay difference between individuals with similar qualifications doing the same job.


Concept Clarification:

  • The gender pay gap differs from “equal pay for equal work,” which mandates equal remuneration for women and men performing the same job with the same qualifications.

Labor Force Participation:

  • Women’s participation in paying jobs is significantly lower than men’s due to societal norms regarding gender roles.
  • Globally, the labor force participation rate for women is just under 47%, compared to 72% for men (ILO).
  • In India, the 2011 Census reported a workforce participation rate of 25.51% for women versus 53.26% for men.

Representation in Management:

  • Fewer women occupy management and leadership positions compared to men, especially at higher levels (ILO’s Women in Business and Management report).
  • Female managers often focus on support roles such as human resources and financial administration rather than strategic positions,
  • resulting in lower average compensation for female managers compared to male managers.


  • There is no universally accepted method to calculate the gender pay gap, leading to varying estimates.
  • For instance, Pew Research reported in 2012 that women in the US earned 84% of what men earned, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that women earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by men.
  • The discrepancy arises from different calculation methods: Pew used hourly wages, while the Labor Bureau used weekly wages, considering only full-time workers (defined as those working at least 35 hours per week).

Examples in Indian Context

  • The gender pay gap in India is influenced by factors such as lower female participation in the workforce, gendered expectations around job roles, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions.
  • For example, sectors like IT and banking show higher gender pay gaps due to fewer women in senior roles.
  • Efforts like the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, aim to improve women’s participation and reduce the gender pay gap by providing better maternity leave benefits.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish June 12, 2024