Mar 30, 2021 - World

U.S. women won’t reach pay equity with men for at least 60 years

Data: WEF; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: WEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Despite some progress, it will take women in North America approximately 61.5 years to have economic parity with men according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report for 2021.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. have made strides in political representation, but they still lag behind men in job market participation and income, according to the report.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has widened disparities, both in the U.S. and abroad, with women exiting the workforce at higher rates "partly due to their disproportionate representation in sectors directly disrupted by lockdowns," the report says.

Details: The report took the North American region as an average of the U.S. and Canada but did provide U.S-specific data.

  • The U.S. has closed 76.3% of its gender gap and now ranks 30th in the world on women's issues, an improvement of 23 spots from last year.
  • The greatest gains were made in political representation, as women in government positions jumped from 21.7% to 46.2%, and the share of women in Congress rose from 23.6% to 27.3%. The report notes that the U.S. has still not had a female head of state.
  • The U.S. has closed 97% of the gender gap in "health and survival," but women's life expectancy is currently 67 years, down from 70.1 years in 2016.

But, but, but: The report states that there has been only "marginal improvement" when it comes to labor force participation and women's attainment of senior roles.

  • "[A]n American woman’s income is about 65.4% of a man’s income," the report adds.
  • While the gender gap in educational achievement has been closed, women remain unrepresented in STEM fields. Only 10.4% of women specialize in these fields vs. over 30% of men, the report says.

The big picture: Worldwide, it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap, an increase of about 35 years from last year, when the WEF stated it would take 99.5 years.

  • In East Asia and the Pacific, women will achieve parity with men in 165 years if progress continues at the current pace. That is almost 30 years longer than the worldwide average.
  • The timeline is even worse for South Asian women: 195.4 years.
  • Western Europe will take the least amount of time to close the gap, at 52.1 years.
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