Age and education don't help women - March 2011

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Highly educated women earn on average up to 30 percent less than their male peers. What's more, experience doesn't seem to help women either - the older they get, the less they earn in comparison to their male peers.

These are some of the findings released by the Wage Indicator Foundation, based on comparative research carried out between 11 countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. The findings are featured in the Wage Indicator quarterly report, which focuses on gender issues on the occasion of Women’s Day, March 8.

Education doesn't add up

With respect to education, the research surveys were divided into three educational groups: those who didn’t finish their basic studies; those with a middle education and/or education after high-school; and those with academic or post-graduate degrees. For each of these groups the gender pay gap was calculated. Those at the lower education end showed an average gender pay gap of between 18 to 20 per cent, as compared to female academics, with economists topping the bill with a pay gap of almost 30 percent.

Age widens the gap

It was also found that the older the worker, the wider the wage gap between men and women.  Amongst workers under 25 the average gender pay gap is 15 percent, i.e. women earn 85 per cent of their male counterparts. Then, till 35, this gender wage gap widens to an average of 19 percent. In the middle-age group (35-50) the gap expands to 25 percent. During the last years of working life this earnings gap keeps widening but at a slower rate. Women over 50 earn 73 percent of what men their age make. 

Wage Indicator has been collecting wage data online since 2001 in a growing number of countries worldwide, including South Africa. In 2011 the countries number 55. For the full report read The Gender Gap - A comparative analysis of wages in time of recession.

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Find out more about Women and Work in South Africa. And take our Salary Check to see how your wages add up in comparison to others.