Jobs and the Future of Work

These industries have the largest gender wage gaps


Women make up fewer than half of the overall workforce in any industry. Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Emma Luxton
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Women are still paid just over half as much as men, and at the current rate of change, it will take 170 years before they receive equal pay.


The gender wage gap is a problem that exists to varying degrees in every country, as shown by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016.

And it isn’t spread evenly across industries either – some have a far bigger wage disparity than others.

Gender pay gap by industry

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report analysed nine key industries, looking at the wage gap between women and men as well as other forms of gender disparity.

The report determined the wage gap by asking respondents from each industry whether equally qualified female employees were paid less than men in the same role.

Image: WEF

It found that the consumer industry has the largest gender wage gap, with almost half of respondents reporting a difference in pay between men and women.

The problem is worst in the business and financial operations sector of the consumer industry, where 83% reported that men were paid more than women.

Healthcare, in comparison, has a much smaller pay gap – only 15% of respondents in the industry said men’s wages were higher.

In fact, just one sector in healthcare has a wage gap: sales. In the manufacturing and science sectors of the industry there is no gender pay gap at all.

Image: WEF

Healthcare also has the highest share of female employees at 38%.

At the other end of the scale, the basic and infrastructure industry, which includes manufacturing, production, architecture, engineering and mining, has the lowest share of women, at just 13%.

Healthcare’s higher share of women and lower gender pay gap perhaps reflects the fact that the industry does not struggle to the same extent as other industries to recruit women.

Women in industry leadership

Women make up fewer than half of the overall workforce in any industry, and this trend gets much worse further up the career ladder.

Image: WEF

Just one industry, media, entertainment and information, has more than 10% female CEOs.

Even in healthcare, the industry with the smallest wage gap and highest share of female workers, women have not made it into the top roles in significant numbers.

Just 6% of healthcare CEOs are women. However, the industries with the fewest women in leadership positions are energy, which has no female CEOs, followed by basic and infrastructure, where only 2% of CEOS are women.

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Related topics:
Jobs and the Future of WorkEquity, Diversity and InclusionEducation and Skills
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