Gender Inequality

Female executives are closing the gender pay gap with men

A woman drinks tea in a T2 shop in London April 24, 2014. Consumer goods giant Unilever is testing its might as a high-end retailer by opening the first European outpost of Australia's T2 tea chain on Thursday in London, hoping to reignite Britons' fading romance with the once-sacred cuppa. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - LM1EA4O17L801

The British pay gap almost halved. Image: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - LM1EA4O17L801

Sonia Elks
Journalist, Reuters
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Gender Inequality?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Gender Inequality is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Gender Inequality

High-flying women are catching up with men when it comes to executive pay but are still woefully under-represented at the top of the working world, a pay comparison firm said on Monday.

The gap between what executive men and women earn fell sharply in Britain and the United States after a global focus on sexism in the workplace forced new laws to address the gaping imbalance, said executive wage comparison website The Pay Index.

The British pay gap almost halved, while the gender divide in U.S. salaries narrowed still further.

"It's a remarkable figure, but we do think it's because a spotlight has been shone onto this issue," Kevin Matthews, a spokesman for the firm, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"No company is able to hide from that now," said Matthews.

There has been growing debate worldwide over entrenched sexism in the workplace, with women questioning why they still earn less and progress slower than male colleagues.

The scrutiny appears to have led to action, according to The Pay Index, which analysed data from more than 6,000 users in Britain and the United States who were earning $100,000-plus.

In Britain, the average gender pay gap dropped from 22 percent in March to 12 percent in September, it found after analysing pay data submitted by users.

Image: The Pay Index

In the United States, the gap sank from 8 percent to 2 percent over the same period.

The website is focused on executive pay and requires users to enter their own pay details in order to compare their salary with others in similar roles. Although it has users worldwide, most are based in Britain and the United States.

It had no data from lower-paid workers.

Where Are The Women?

U.S. women in full-time work earn about 80 percent of what men are paid on average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The average pay gap for full-time British workers dropped to a record low of 8.6 percent in 2018, official data showed last week.

In a bid to tackle discrimination, New York City has banned employers from asking job applicants about previous salaries, with other U.S. states and cities passing similar legislation.

Have you read?

Campaigners say such questions trap women in lower pay.

Since April, British firms employing 250 or more people must publish details of their average gender pay gap every year.

Matthews said the United States appears to have a "head start" as its laws came into force earlier and that he expected British pay equality to improve further.

He said women only make up about a quarter of the website's users, suggesting while conditions may be improving for those in boardrooms, others still struggle to reach senior posts.

Moves to combat pay discrimination are welcome, but more action is needed to address the "staggering under-representation of women in executive roles," said Sarah Alter, president of the U.S. organisation Network of Executive Women.

"We must have gender pay parity – but we need parity in workplace support, leadership development, mentorship and sponsorship, and career opportunity, too," she said.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Gender InequalityFuture of WorkEducation
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How boosting women’s financial literacy could help you live a long, fulfilling life 

Morgan Camp

April 9, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum