Why do women earn 16% less than men?

In 2017, female private sector workers in France earned an average of 16.8% less than men in full-time equivalents (Photo credit: 123RF)

According to an INSEE study published on June 18, in France, women employed in the private sector earn on average 16.8% less than men in full-time equivalents. How can this difference be explained?

In 2017, in France, female private sector workers earned on average 16.8% less than men in full-time equivalents, i.e. for the same volume of work. If real working time is taken into account, the average wage of women is therefore 28.5% lower than that of men because they are more often part-time and less employed during the year than men.

However, for 40 years, the gender pay gap with the same volume of work has been shrinking at a steady pace: for full-time employees, the gap has fallen from 29.4% in 1976 to 16.3% in 2017.

A salary gap that increases with the level of diploma and experience

The full-time equivalent pay gap between men and women increases significantly with the level of qualification: it is 29.4% for holders of a Bac + 3 or more, compared to 15.8% for those without a high school diploma .

Full-time equivalent gender pay gaps also increase with work experience. They are relatively limited for people who have recently entered the labor market (6.4% in 2017 among people with less than 5 years of professional experience), while they reach 21.7% for those with more than 30 years of career.

The gender pay gap is strongly linked to the work performed

Differences in full-time equivalent pay are largely due to the type of work performed and the hierarchical level. Women occupy less varied occupations than men and more often at a lower hierarchical level: 22.8% of the positions held by men corresponded to managerial jobs in 2017, compared to 17.5% for women.

The professions occupied by men more often have the qualification of manager, for example jobs related to information technology, a very masculine sector already from study courses. Gender-differentiated educational guidance can have long-term effects on the jobs held and, ultimately, on wage disparities.

Access to better-paid jobs is more difficult for women and mothers

Although they have been narrowed over the past two decades, the differences in average full-time equivalent wages between women and men are mainly due to inequalities in access to the best-paid jobs. The likelihood for a woman to enter a job in the top 10% is 36% lower than for men in 2017. For the top 1% in work, women have a 58% lower chance of access in the 2017, up from 76% twenty years earlier.

Full-time equivalent wage inequalities increase significantly with the number of children, especially starting with the second child: women’s wages are 21% lower than men’s for parents of two children and 31% for parents of two children. three or more children, compared to 12% for those with only one child and 7% for those without children. The inequalities are even greater when real working hours are taken into account.

With the same professional experience, these observations remain valid. They are mainly explained by the fact that inequalities in access to better-paid jobs are much greater between mothers and fathers than between women and men without children. For example, mothers have a 60% lower chance of accessing the top 1% of jobs than fathers, while childless women are less likely to access than men without children alone. 30%.

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