Within-job gender pay gaps range from 6% in France to 26% in Japan

Report looks at 'widespread' problem of women with same jobs as men being underpaid in 15 countries

Within-job gender pay gaps range from 6% in France to 26% in Japan

Women who have the same jobs as their male counterparts still are underpaid — even in advanced industrialised nations, according to a new report on the gender pay gap.

The study, which was carried out by 29 researchers led by sociology professor Andrew Penner, analysed data from 15 countries, including Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States, to discover the scope of the in-job gender pay gap across the world.

"Overall, within-job gender differences accounted for about half of the gender differences we observed, meaning that differences in pay men and women are receiving for the same job remain a substantial source of the earning gaps in all 15 countries studied," Penner said.

Japan had the highest within-job pay discrepancy between men and women, according to the report, at 26%. South Korea came in second at 19%, followed by the United States at 14%.

Overall, South Korea had the largest gender gap in earnings among employees between 30 and 55 years old, at 41%, according to the study, which was published in Nature Human Behaviour.

'Widespread' problem

The findings suggest that within-job gender pay gap is "widespread," according to the report's authors, and that the pay gap is not only due to job segregation. 

"Previous research and policies have put the onus for gender pay inequity purely on occupational differences, describing the processes involved in sorting women and men into different jobs as central to understanding pay differences," Penner said in an article from the University of California, Irvine.

"We found this to be only half of the story. The other half is comprised of women who are paid less than the men they're working next to in the same job. And this isn't just a one-country problem; it's everywhere."

Eunmi Mun, a co-author and professor of labour and employment relations at the University of Illinois, said the report also reveals how widespread the problem is.

"Our findings not only underscore the relevance of both overall and within-job differences in wages, but also document that this isn't merely a problem that's confined to certain countries. It's widespread throughout many modern economies and industrialized nations," Mun said as quoted by the Illinois News Bureau.

Need for equal pay policies

To address the pay gap and achieve gender equality, policy reforms will be vital for many organisations and governments, according to the report.

"Our findings suggest that policies focusing on equal pay for equal work and policies attending to hiring, promotion, and other job-sorting processes are both vital to establishing gender equality in the labour market," the report said.

The sentiment was echoed by Mun, who added that policies should also address perception on what is regarded as "valuable" work.

"We should also have policies focusing on organizational hiring and promotion practices that match people to jobs, as well as on fostering broader societal views regarding whose work is defined as valuable, because women's work is far too often undervalued," Mun said.

Conversations on pay transparency policies will also be important to organisations, according to Marta Elvira, another co-author of the report from the IESE Business School.

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