What Employees Across The World Think About The Gender Wage Gap

A majority are in favor of equal pay for men and women, and they believe that it’s the government’s job to fix the pay gap.

What Employees Across The World Think About The Gender Wage Gap
[Photo: Flickr user Brittany Smith]

Let’s get one thing square right away: The gender wage gap is complicated.


It varies by job, industry, state, and racial and ethnic background so much, that it’s unfair and inaccurate to hang on to the 77¢ to the dollar figure.

What is clear is that a pay gap does persist between men and women in the same jobs in many industries in all parts of the world. Part of the reason is that despite data from organizations such as the World Economic Forum, which estimates based on nine years of reporting that it will take 81 years to reach gender parity in the workplace, Glassdoor’s latest research indicates that nearly three-quarters of employed adults (74%) globally believe men and women are already being paid equally for equal work at their employer.

Glassdoor took a deeper dive behind the dollar figures to determine employee sentiment around issues related to the gender pay gap.

To get its results, Glassdoor partnered with Harris Poll to survey 8,254 adults (a statistically equal split between men and women) employed both full time and part time in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The survey was conducted online between October 1-5, 2015.


Overall, the sentiment globally is positive. The overwhelming majority (89%) of those surveyed in all seven countries believe that men and women should be paid equally for similar work and experience levels. This varies country to country. In the U.S. that number jumped to 93% while only 65% weighed in in favor of gender pay parity in France.

Perception Versus Reality

This starts to break down when drilling down further into the demographics of the survey. For example: In the U.S. 70% of all people surveyed reported that they believe men and women are already being paid equally by their employer. Only 60% of women, however, found this accurate, as opposed to 78% of male respondents.

On the fairness of compensation, a majority (69% ) of employees believe they are paid fairly with regards to their coworkers, but women were only 65% likely to view their compensation as fair compared to 73% of men.

How Parity Works At Work

This can be a challenge for businesses who are trying to be more inclusive. Glassdoor’s findings indicate that 81% of Americans between the ages of 18-24 aren’t keen to work for a company where they believe a pay gap exists, compared to 63% of those over 45 years of age.

This dovetails with other recent survey findings in which millennial women in particular say they are more likely to leave a currently employer if they weren’t given opportunities to progress and lead in addition to compensation. According to Deloitte, 48% of female respondents to their survey say they are being overlooked for potential leadership positions.

“Companies that hope to attract more female talent would be wise to be transparent about their compensation practices and make clear they have no gender pay gap,” Glassdoor’s researchers say. The survey found that 67% of U.S. employees are not likely to apply to a company they believe has a pay gap between men and women doing the same work. Not surprisingly, more women (81%) than men (55%) feel this way.


Suggestions For Closing The Gap For Good

We’ve reported on how some small businesses shouldered the responsibility of achieving equity themselves. To achieve parity, they by opening up their books to reveal all employee pay. Glassdoor’s survey revealed that U.S. employees are embracing other potential solutions.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans report that government legislation is necessary. This squares with sentiment in other countries, which ranges from 41% of UK respondents to 33% in France and Holland.

Unfortunately, the Paycheck Fairness act has languished in the U.S. for years. But there’s hope that California’s Equal Pay Act , which took effect in January and mandates that employers prove their compensation practices aren’t discriminatory for roles that are “substantially similar” will have an impact globally.

President Obama’s latest proposal could also help as it would require all employers with over 100 employees to report their staff’s pay broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a level of transparency also meant to illuminate and improve the gender pay gap.

Glassdoor found that more U.S. employees who believe there is a gender pay gap at their current company report that this could be dealt with at the employer level. For example:

  • 45% want new company policies around pay and compensation.
  • 36% want clearer communication from senior leaders and human resources about how pay raises, bonuses, and cost-of-living increases are determined.
  • 31% vote for greater internal pay transparency for all roles.

Some women say they should step up their own efforts to close the gap. The researchers note: “Nearly one in five women (19%) believe that women should demand pay raises more frequently to make an impact in improving the wage gap, compared to just one in 10 (11%) of men.”


About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.