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MIND THE GAP

Is there any industry in India where women make more money than men?

By Suneera Tandon

If you’re a woman in India Inc, you are probably paid 27% less than your male colleague—for the same amount of work.

Latest data from hiring portal Monster.com points out to an incredibly sexist corporate environment in a country where the female participation in workforce is already one of lowest in the world.

Men in India earned a median gross hourly salary of Rs288.68 ($4.28), while women only raked in about Rs207.85 ($3.09) per hour. Monster recorded the data over 33 months between Jan. 2013 and Sep. 2015, surveying over 30,000 people across eight sectors.

The situation is probably no better is the remaining sectors of India’s fast-growing economy.

Gender disparity is especially high in labour-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, which that has the highest pay gap at 34.9%. That’s followed by IT services, where a low proportion of women working in the sector translates into a wide gender pay gap of 34%.

However, wages for women in the financial services, banking and insurance showed a narrower pay gap at 17.7%.

“Some reasons behind this gender pay gap could be preference for male employees over female employees, preference for promotion of male employees to supervisory positions, career breaks of women due to parenthood duties, and other socio-cultural factors,” Monster.com’s report stated citing a 2013 study by Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad professors Biju Varkkey and Rupa Korde.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report in 2015, which looked at 145 economies, estimated that it could take another 118 years for women to close the pay gap with men.

Where’s the female workforce?

It’s not just wages. Even female workforce participation in India isn’t improving.

India ranked shockingly low in WEF’s Global Gender Gap report. India’s ranking slipped five points in 2015 from a year ago to 139 out of 145 countries on the economic participation and opportunity index for women. The study pointed out that India’s score on economic equality is a dismal 0.383, where zero stands for inequality and one represents perfect equality.

The report reasoned that “economic participation and opportunity (in India) has declined due to a decrease in wage equality for similar work and less female labour force participation.”

Perhaps Indian corporates would do well to learn from the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, which claim to have succeeded in closing the gender-pay gap. Otherwise, for working women in India, it may be a long and unfair wait.