Gender pay gap a real and important issue

The gender pay gap is seen as a real and important issue, but divisions exist over whether it is a top priority right now

While studies highlight the disproportionate economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women, citizens of many countries are divided over whether closing the gender pay gap should be a top priority right now.

This is one of the findings in an Ipsos Global Advisor study carried out online before International Women’s Day. Fieldwork was conducted from 22 January 2021 to 5 February 2021 in 28 countries with 20,520 adults interviewed.

Talking about the importance of taking note and taking action relating to the gender pay gap, Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, said:

“It's been said that we’re at a coronavirus crossroads; we face a choice between building back better or allowing progress on gender equality to stall or even be reversed. As the world decides which path to take, the good news is that the vast majority of people recognise that closing the gender pay gap is important. The bad news is that in many countries, people are less clear it should be a top priority right now, as we begin to reopen and rebuild society. But if we’re to have any chance of ensuring women don’t lose out further because of the crisis, we need to keep this issue high on the agenda.”

Addressing the gender pay gap

Looking at the international results, two in five (42%) think that closing the gender pay gap is important but should not be a priority right now compared with more than a third (36%) who think it should be one of the top priorities in their country. Women are much more likely to say that it should be a priority than men (41% of women vs 31% of men).

Twice as many men as women believe that closing the gender pay gap is not important at all.

two in five think that closing the gender pay gap is important but should not be a priority right

In thirteen quite diverse countries, online citizens see closing the gender pay gap as a priority more than the global country average of 36%. In three of these countries, Chile (53%), South Africa (52%) and France (51%) more than half support the idea that the gender pay gap should be addressed imminently.

In keeping with the international results, a much higher proportion of South African women (61%) than men (41%) think that the gender pay gap is so important that it should be addressed immediately.

a much higher proportion of South African women than men think that the gender pay gap is so important that it should be addressed

Despite these divisions, there is broad sympathy for the need to address the gender pay gap with half of people (50%) across the 28 countries saying that concerns about the gender pay gap are a response to a real problem. South Africans feel stronger than this with 58% saying that the concerns are about a real problem.

But there is a sizeable minority of around one in five (19%) who believes that concerns about the gender pay gap are an example of political correctness gone too far and a similar proportion (18%) believes that reports about the gender pay gap in the media are fake news. Men are more likely to think that reports about the gender pay gap are fake news compared with women (21% of men vs 16% of women). 12% of online South Africans perceive news about the gender pay gap as fake; interestingly, 18% of men agree and only 7% of women agree.

There is majority support for greater transparency over pay. Over half (56%) support the right for people to know what colleagues, who are doing similar work, are being paid. Support to know this information is slightly higher among women than men (58% of women vs 54% of men). One in five (20%) do not think people should have the right to know what colleagues - doing the same work - are being paid.

Countries where calls for transparency is greatest are Chile (70%), Peru (67%), Argentina (66%) and Hungary (65%). In South Africa, 58% of online citizens support more openness about information about remuneration.

“Women’s work” is underpaid

Jobs in caring professions - childcare, nursing, care work - are seen as predominately done by women, and also as underpaid. The same applies to shop work (although there are also examples of professions that people think on balance are more likely to be made up of men that are also seen as relatively underpaid, such as delivery drivers and police officers).

In contrast, politicians and bankers, who are seen as being paid too much, are viewed as predominantly male occupations (although it should be pointed out this is not necessarily seen as a causal link).

  • Four in five (82%) think that those providing childcare (such as nursery workers, childminders and nannies) are predominantly women, and over half (55%) think they are paid too little for the work they do.
  • Around seven in 10 (68%) think that nursing is mostly made up of women (compared with 25% who think it is made up of equal numbers of men and women), and six in ten (59%) think nurses are paid too little.
  • 64% say that care worker jobs, such as helping the elderly and those with disabilities are predominantly done by women, and the same proportion (63%) thinks they are paid too little for the work that they do.
  • Two-thirds of people (66%) across the countries surveyed think that politicians are predominantly male, and they are ranked highest for being paid too much for the work that they do - by three-quarters (74%) of people.
  • 86% think that construction workers are mostly men. For delivery drivers this figure is 78% and 68% for police officers. For all of these professions, the balance of opinion shows that people think that they are paid too little for the jobs that they do.

jobs in caring professions childcare nursing care work are seen as predominately done by women and also as underpaid

These results can also be viewed on a different kind of graph.

politicians and bankers who are seen as being paid too much are viewed as predominantly male occupations

 

Technical Detail:
  • These are the results of a 28-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 20,520 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 21 other markets between 22 January and 5 February 2021.
  • The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.
  • The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of their general adult population under the age of 75.
  • The samples in Brazil, Chile, mainland China, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these markets should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.
  • The data is weighted so that each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the covered adult population according to the most recent census data.
  • Where results do not sum to 100 or the difference appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don't know” or not stated responses.
  • The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos' use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.

 

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mari Harris
Director and Political Analyst
mari.harris@ipsos.com

Ezethu Nsiki
Service Line Manager: Public Affairs
ezethu.nsiki@ipsos.com

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