Gender Inequality at Work

gender inequality

Gender inequality — the unequal treatment of men and women by society based on their assigned gender at birth — is a widespread issue. The good news is that it has been reduced over time and continues to decline in some places, especially in high-income countries. However, significant gaps remain and the challenges are far from over.

Gender equality is a wide-ranging concept that covers everything from equal pay to equal opportunities, and it means that both women and men have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities in all areas of life. It also requires that they be free from coercion, intimidation or violence both at work and at home, and that they be allowed to fully pursue their ambitions, interests, talents and passions.

In the workplace, a gender-neutral approach includes equitable pay for equal work, no discrimination in hiring or promotion and a workplace culture that supports and values women’s success. It also involves addressing traditional stereotypes that may hinder female progress, such as the idea that women are not good at math and science or that they prefer to care for others rather than pursue a career in STEM fields.

While the gap has narrowed over time, it remains a huge problem in many countries. A major reason is that cultural beliefs about what men and women should do or be, and whose interests are most important, influence job selection and the allocation of jobs. Changing those beliefs would enhance equality from the supply-side of labor markets.

Inequality is most visible in the way that women are treated at work. While there has been substantial progress over the past few decades, many countries still have large gender pay gaps. In many cases, the gap is caused by a combination of factors including:

The world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations are often most affected by gender inequality. This is the case for indigenous women whose exploitation is made worse by colonisation and violence; for women from communities of color, who experience racism and discrimination on top of gender inequality; and for migrants and refugees, who are at risk of poverty and marginalisation because of limited access to employment.

Gender inequality is a global phenomenon that affects all aspects of people’s lives. It can be difficult to address because of the interconnections between different dimensions of inequality. In order to make real progress, everyone must take part in the fight for gender equality. Individuals can start by focusing on their own behavior, such as splitting household chores equally or refusing to buy into gender stereotypes. They can also support organizations and leaders that are committed to equity by donating their time or money. They can also help to change the culture of their workplace by becoming allies and speaking up for colleagues who are being harassed or discriminated against. The most effective action, however, is a comprehensive strategy that addresses all the different aspects of inequality in partnership with each other.