The longer Indian women work, the more they’re underpaid

It only gets harder.
It only gets harder.
Image: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe
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In a country where female labour force participation remains abysmally low, even the few women who do persevere in their careers aren’t fairly rewarded.

In fact, the longer they stay put, the more is the disparity in the remuneration they earn when compared to men, according to the Monster Salary Index released by online jobs portal Monster India on March 07.

Data for 2017 show Indian women with three to five years of experience earn marginally higher median wages (1.09%) than men at the same level. But the tide begins to turn once employees have six to 10 years of experience, with men earning 15.3% more than women. And at over 11 years of experience, the gender pay gap becomes a startling 25%.

The data were collected from 20,994 male and female employees as part of a collaboration between Monster India and Paycheck.in, a research initiative at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad that is part of WageIndicator, an organisation that collects data on wages in over 80 countries.

These figures are particularly frustrating given all the obstacles women must typically overcome in the first place to make it to the top of their fields. To begin with, India’s conservative society still identifies bearing and caring for children as a woman’s primary role. That makes it incredibly difficult to juggle household responsibilities alongside professional ones. All the more so after childbirth—that is if at all new mothers are allowed to return to the workplace. Among those who are, only a lucky few can expect a reliable support system, including childcare facilities and flexible timings.

After surveying over 3,000 working women, Monster India listed some of their top challenges, including inadequate travel and transport facilities, the attitudes of clients and colleagues, and the social perception of women who work long hours.

Given all this, it isn’t surprising that last year India ranked the third-lowest in the world in Grant Thornton’s global survey on women in leadership positions—only 7% of senior management roles were held by Indian women. In the IT industry, one of the country’s biggest job creators, a great chasm opens up between the number of men and women who stick around for over five years.

As the data show, there’s little to reward them even if they do.