Women and jobs
What women do
Economic growth has surprisingly little effect on the wage gap
Sep 24th 2011 | from the print edition
Study hard, and you’ll earn more than me
“MEN are finished.” That was the proposition in a debate at New York University (NYU) on September 20th. Hardly. A World Bank report published the day before finds that, although particular groups of ill-educated young men are doing badly, and although women’s lives have improved a lot in the past 20 years, sexual inequality at work is remarkably stubborn. Globally, women earn 10-30% less than men. They are also concentrated in “women’s” jobs. Annoyingly, economic growth does not seem to narrow the gap.
This is surprising. You might expect that as countries get richer, women would become better educated and jobs requiring brute strength would become less important. Rich countries also have larger public sectors, where the wage gap is smaller. Yet overall, the gap is no smaller in rich countries such as Britain and the Netherlands than in poor ones such as the Philippines.
More striking, there is little sign that women are moving into traditionally male occupations. Men utterly dominate such beefy industries as transport and mining. A hefty 11% of men work in construction; only 1% of women do.
Women cluster in communications, retail and public administration, including education and health. This is true regardless of national income. Looking at Bangladesh, Mexico and Sweden, the bank found that men and women tended to separate themselves into the same sorts of occupation in all three countries. (Bangladeshi shops and hotels, which employed disproportionately more men, were exceptions.)