Rwanda’s Pay Gap Is Smaller Than America’s

The Global Gender Index Gap says women won’t earn as much as men for another 118 years.


There’s not much to love about the World Economic Forum’s 2015 report on the global gender wage gap—but if you’re an American woman, there’s even more to hate.

The Global Gender Index Gap, released Wednesday, is a ranking of the 145 world economies according to “how well they are leveraging their female talent pool.” The rankings are based on four indicators: economic, educational, health-based, and political. While the overall gap between men and women in these four areas did close by 4 percent in the last decade, economic equality remains stagnant.

According to the report’s trajectory, women will not be earning as much as men until 2133—a staggering 118 years from now. Those who assume that, in America, this number may be less are dead wrong. While the majority of countries inched closer to economic equality between the sexes over the past decade, the U.S. was not one of them.

America fell eight places in the overall rankings, landing at number 28 on the global gender gap index—behind top three countries Iceland, Norway, and Finland as well as developing countries like Rwanda and the Philippines. This is despite America jumping 26 places higher in the education ranking, from 66th in 2006 to 40th in 2015.

Today in the U.S., women make 74 cents to every dollar that men earn, compared to Rwanda, where women make 88 percent the amount that men do. Iceland tops the list, a win which WEF experts attribute the country's success in helping parents with work/family balance, which allows more females into leadership roles. “They have the best policies in the world for families,” Saadia Zahidi, the lead author of the study, said. “Their childcare systems are the best and they have the best laws on paternity, maternity and family leave.”

But in America, putting more women in leadership roles may not solve the problem. According to a report from the International Labour Organisation Statistical Office, females made up 42.8 percent of the managers in America last year.

While the U.S. may be lagging behind in the pay gap world, it’s most definitely not an anomaly. Not one country in the world pays women and men equally.

The average female salary today, $11,000, is what males were making (on average) in 2006; today, their salary is twice that number, at $21,000. The discrepancy means that women who are getting paid less to do the same jobs are, at least a fraction of the time, working for free. According to the calculations by the WEF, women work an average of 133 days unpaid per year.

If closing the gender gaps means pinpointing the cause of the inequality, Columbia University researchers are on the right track. Put this expectation gap down to two factors: overconfidence and competitiveness. In a study from 2014, they found men to have a significantly higher level of competitiveness than women and to be twice as likely to “overestimate their true ability.”

Perhaps a change in perspective, the authors conclude, could impact the overall equality. “Individuals with low earnings expectations are more willing to accept a low-paying job offer because it is in line with their beliefs,” they write. “They are also less likely to negotiate for a higher salary since the offer is consistent with their benchmark.”

If the amount of time it will take to close gap has yet to hit home, check out the Gender Gap age calculator. Unless you’ve got plans to live past 150, it won’t be pretty.