Here’s a (not so) fun fact: At the rate we’re going, we—or rather our great great great grandchildren—won’t achieve gender pay equality until 2152. This is a big problem and rightfully so, we’re beginning to hear more and more about it in the media, among friends, and even in the world of sketch comedy.
But for all this talk of gender pay inequality, there’s one part of the discussion that continues to get little-to-no airtime at all. And that’s finding a solution. So far, governments and business leaders are yet to come up with any salable ideas on how to close the gender pay gap, hence why it still sits at a woeful average of 20%.
But this isn’t to say that a solution isn’t out there. In fact, our economist friends think they’ve found something which they think not only could close the gender pay gap, but which they say, in a select number of industries, already is. The answer? Remote work. The ability to work remotely – essentially, to work from home – can even the playfield.
Remote Work = Key To Gender Pay Equality
Over the past decade, several studies have found the industries that afford greater flexibility to its employees have less disparity in pay between men and women.
To see proof of this, one need look no further than the tech industry. Tech ranks second among industries embracing remote work and at the same time, boasts one of the smallest gender pay gaps, with female employees earning 96-98 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make—an impressive uptick compared to the abysmal average of 76 cents to every dollar a man makes across other industries.
Other industries that allow for flexible working structures, such as healthcare and media, show similar correlations with greater pay equality. Meanwhile, hardcore face-time industries like agriculture, mining, and food services carry some of the the largest gender pay gaps going around.
Keeping Working Mothers In The Game
When you think about, none of this is all that surprising. With childrearing and other caregiving responsibilities disproportionately falling to women, it’s almost impossible for female employees to remain on the same career trajectory as their male counterparts. This is because of the way performance has traditionally been measured. Being able to put in more onsite hours—the age-old competency marker—has long allowed men to advance over women in the workplace.
However, remote work, with its emphasis on deliverables as opposed to face-time, is gradually beginning to change this. And for working mothers in particular, it’s proving to be quite a game changer. Being able to build one’s work day around one’s family obligations not only allows women to keep their jobs, it also enables them to cut down on childcare expenses—a major factor in whether or not women decide to take time out or go back to work. The possibility to work from home gives these women their careers back.
Obliterating Gender Bias
But it isn’t just women with children who stand to gain from remote work, it’s women in general.
This is because the non-traditional nature of virtual work helps strip away many of the gender biases of the traditional workplace. One such example of this is the idea that it’s inappropriate or displeasing for female employees to behave with the same bullish confidence as their male colleagues. When we remove everyone from the environment, we eliminate this gender structure along with many others.
Put simply, taking communication online has a powerful equalization effect. It creates opportunities for those who’d otherwise feel anxious or disincentivized to share thoughts and opinions in a face-to-face setting which, in turn, fosters a more even playing field for both genders. Remote workers are less prone to behavioural bias.
Getting More Industries On Board
But just because the positive link between remote work and gender pay equality is as clear as crystal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone’s willing to jump on the bandwagon. A good example of this is corporate sector, where productivity continues to be measured by presence, not output.
But while putting in long hours might be the industry norm, it results in an unhealthy phenomenon social scientists call ‘flexibility stigma,’ whereby employees are penalized, or fear they’ll be penalized, for accessing remote work privileges to which they’re entitled.
Clearly, this attitude needs to change. And according to experts, the best place to start is with management. That’s right managers, it’s on you guys to change your company’s mindset towards remote work by embracing it not just a token benefit offered to staff, but as an actual function of your company’s culture.
Oh, and managers—don’t worry, you stand to gain in all this too. By expanding your remote work policies, you’ll not only contribute to the very noble pursuit of bringing an end to gender pay gap, you’ll also boost your chance of attracting and retaining top female talent as remote workers. It’s a win-win!
So start doing your part by using remote work to close the gender gap, today – fill our contact form to let us know what position you need filling, and we’ll get back to you with a selection of ideal candidates from DistantJob’s diverse hiring pool!