A new report on equal pay paints a grim future for women, one where women will continue to be disadvantaged in the workplace until the year 2277. That’s 257 more years where women can expect to leave the office each day with less money in their bank account than their male counterparts doing an equal or similar job.
The Global Gender Gap Report, released by the World Economic Forum, was published on Tuesday with these concerning stats. Worryingly, the number of years it will take to close the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity is rising from past years. Last year, the estimate was 202 years until equal pay, but this year it’s risen to 257 years.
Just to be clear on the math — that’s more than 2.5 centuries before women can expect to receive compensation and opportunities that are equal to their male counterparts. Once more for the people in the back, 2.5 centuries.
The results of this report further confirm the stark differences men and women face in the workplace. The report measured the gender gap across four categories: economics, politics, education and health. They found that while the gender gap in education and health was nearly eliminated, women still face many systemic challenges when it comes to economics and politics.
The study ranked 153 countries on their closeness to gender equality across the four categories. For the eleventh year in a row, Iceland was named the most gender-equal country. Iceland, leading by example, passed a law to make it illegal for women to make less money than men in 2018. In fact, all top 4 spots are held by Nordic countries, with Norway, Finland and Sweden following. That's no surprise, considering how women are leading the political game in Finland. The least equal countries, though, were Iraq and Yemen.
As for the United States, the country dropped two spots from last year and currently holds the 53rd spot. While the report lists some wins for American women — like being highly educated and relatively well-represented in middle and high management roles — it also highlights the areas where American women are disadvantaged. American women still struggle to enter the very top business positions and they are under-represented in political leadership roles, the report notes.
While the results may be grim, depressing even, they affirm that transparency is one of the most effective ways to accelerate women’s pursuit of equal pay. Coworkers sharing a job title might never discuss their compensation with one another, but the opaqueness surrounding salaries in the workplace only serves to protect the enshrined patriarchy that lies at the foundation of the economic system which keeps women underpaid.
Women employees often don’t realize they’re being underpaid until they have a frank discussion about compensation with a co-worker. With the slow-moving pace of structural changes, more open and honest conversations in the workplace can help to illuminate inequalities women may not be aware of.