Gender gaps crop up when there’s a difference in opinions, attitudes or beliefs between the men and women of a given society. And despite both sexes being consumers, voters, citizens and workers, women around the globe are often given the short end of the stick. Politics is often more difficult for women candidates to enter and pursue; employment and wages are lower for female workers; and women in some countries are prevented from pursuing an education. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It sucks to release that at present, all countries have a gender gap. Yup, all of them. But what we don’t release is that different countries have different types and severities of gender gaps. Read on to find out what gender gaps exist in popular Western countries.
Australia was the second country to allow women the right to vote, following its neighbour New Zealand, after it passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act in 1902. Since then, the people of the land Down Under have been working towards equal gender opportunities for both men and women.
The results of this are noticeable in today’s public. For starters, a growing number of women have taken on leadership roles in the Australian labour force, with women holding around two in five senior official positions. In addition, the number of female university graduates has increased (57%), along with the number of women now in paid employment (59.3%).
However, Australia still has some ways to go before gender equality is reached.
The average full-time woman in Australia earns A$83 for each A$100 a full-time man earns – almost a whole one-fifth less. While this might not seem too large in comparison to other countries, it’s one of Australia’s highest recorded pay gaps between genders in the last decade.
On top of this, average superannuation payouts for Australian women are just over half the amount of super men receive, leaving women at greater risk of poverty after their retirement.
Women also continue to be significantly underrepresented in Australian politics, with less than one-third of parliamentarians and one-fifth of ministers compromising of women. Worse still, Australia’s lack of female representation on a national political level continues to decline when compared with other countries.
Canada is working towards removing numerous barriers still facing women today.
Around 62% of Canada’s university graduates are women, making the women in Canada’s labour force more likely to have tertiary education than men. However, despite this, women with a university degree in Canada earn just 68% of what their male counterparts earn.
On top of that, the average full-time woman earns just C$73 for every C$100 a full-time man earns.
Not only does this large wage gap make it exceptionally difficult for millions of working women in Canada to support themselves and their families, but it also increases the likelihood of women falling below the poverty line. This is already a pressing issue in Canada, were around 59% of all minimum wage earners are women.
Inequality also continues to be a persistent feature in Canadian politics, despite a record number of 88 women being elected in Canada’s 2015 federal election, up from 76 in 2011. The rise now means women hold around one-quarter of the seats in the House of Commons.
The Emerald Isle is ranked the 6th in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap Report – the highest non-Nordic nation. As such, it’s the metaphoric “goals” when it comes to practicing equality between the genders.
Ireland’s current success is based around its strong legislative framework for equality and non-discrimination. Its wage equality rank is quite high in comparison to other countries, with full-time female workers earning on average about 16% less than male workers.
It also offers maternity leave, paternity leave and other family-friendly leaves to support both male and female parents who wish to reconcile work and family life.
However, like all countries worldwide, Ireland is still working towards perfect gender equality. At present, women in Ireland carry the main responsibility for unpaid care work, have extremely restricted access to reproductive health services and are vulnerable to gender-based violence.
In addition, women in Ireland also hold few positions of political importance. Just under a third of Ireland’s Senator positions in the Seanad are held by women, while women hold 35 of the 158 seats in the lower House.
On the bright side, however, two of Ireland’s eight former presidents are female. The two, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, have a combined total of 21 years as leaders.
The United Kingdom is among one of the most gender equal countries in the world, and has made significant strides towards closing the gender gap.
At present, just over one-third (35%) of members in the Scottish Parliament are women, compared to just over two-fifths (42%) of members of National Assembly for Wales and 28% of Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Women also make up around 30% of seats in the House of Commons and over one-fourth of the members in the House of Lords; making the United Kingdom’s political field well-rounded in comparison to other countries.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom has a relatively small wage gap, with full-time female employees earn around 9.4% less than their full-time male counterparts. When part-time employees are included, the gender wage gap sits at around 18.1%.
This means that on average, for every £100 a man in the United Kingdom earns, a woman earns around £82.
In recent decades, the socio-economic position of women in the United States has changed significantly. Women’s educational attainment levels have increased, to the point where 58% of university graduates in the United States are now female, and women are earning more bachelor’s degrees, master degrees and doctorate degrees than men.
Despite this, women make up almost two-thirds of the minimum wage bracket; demonstrating the struggles the fairer sex still faces with regards to gender equality in the United States.
On average, for every US$100 a full-time male worker in the United States earns, a full-time female worker earns around US$80. Unlike most other countries, however, this gender wage gap varies enormously between states.
In New York, women earn around US$89 for every US$100 a man earns. In contrast, women in Wyoming earn around US$64 to a man’s US$100 – over one-third less.
Women are still struggling to be represented in politics in the United States, too. Just over 19% of the seats in the U.S. Congress are held by women, with 84 in the House and 20 in the Senate. The United States is also yet to have a female president.