Women earn 23 per cent less than men, UN statistics show, and they have done for the last 20 years.
The numbers send a clear signal that the gender pay gap is difficult to change.
But a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research gives new insight into the reasons that women’s wages lag behind.
Researchers Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn found that the lack of women in certain industries and specific jobs is one factor.
“Significantly, women continue to lag in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),fields particularly in mathematically-intensive fields. And gender differences in college major have been found to be an important determinant of the pay gap between college-educated men and women,” they said.
Tech companies have to make more space for women to close the pay gap between male and female workers, the report found.
Susan Wojcicki agrees with this view. She wrote on the Huffington Post that closing the tech gender gap is necessary to keep women in the labour market.
Only six per cent of the engineering work force is female in the UK, according to stats from the Women’s Engineering Society.
If outright sex discrimination has declined sharply, women’s career choices, affected by motherhood and family, are still creating inequality, the research found.
Nearly 90 per cent of women in the US do net get paid any family leave.
Mothers were perceived to be less competent and less committed to paid work. Lower starting salaries were recommended for them, according to the study.
“Current research continues to find evidence of a motherhood penalty for women and of a marriage premium for men,” the report finds.
“The greater tendency of men to determine the geographic location of the family continues to be a factor even among highly educated couples.”
The additional hours women might spent in housework and children are associated with lower wages, the study finds.
It does not get easier for women in highly skilled professions, where progress in pay equality has been slower, according to the research.
Female employees working at a higher level are more likely to be harshly penalised for time spent away from the office.
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
1/15 Angela Merkel - German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retained her number one ranking for topping this year’s Forbes list for the fifth consecutive year and ten times in total.
2/15 Hillary Clinton - Presidential candidate, United States
Clinton, who could become the world’s most powerful leader in 2016, has been featured on the list every year since it launched in 2014.
3/15 Melinda Gates - Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000.
4/15 Janet Yellen - Chair, Federal Reserve, Washington, United States
Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve.
5/15 Marry Barra - CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors.
6/15 Christina Lagarde - Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organisation which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. Under Lagarde the IMF has supported efforts to increase female labor force participation as way to reduce poverty and inequality. The UK, Germany, China, France and Korea have endorsed Christine Lagarde for another term as the head of the IMF.
7/15 Dilma Rousseff - President, Brazil
Dilma Rousseff, who has been elected in 2010, is Brazil's first female president.
8/15 Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” joined the company in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later. Sandberg helped the social network go public and expand digital revenue.
9/15 Susan Wojcicki - CEO of Youtube
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube, the world’s most popular digital video platform used by over a billion people across the globe. She oversees YouTube's content and business operations, engineering, and product development.
10/15 Michelle Obama - First lady, United States
Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service.
11/15 Park Geun-hye - President, South Korea
Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of a country that has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. In her inauguration speech, she promised to prioritise both national security and economic revitalisation.
12/15 Oprah Winfrey - Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey, a former queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talkshow. Her 'The Life You Want' tour sold out stadiums from Newark to Seattle in 2014.
13/15 Ginni Rometty - CEO of IBM
Ginni Rometty joined IBM in 1981 and later became the first woman to lead the company.
14/15 Meg Whitman - CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Meg Whitman is the only woman to have headed two large U.S. public companies: eBay and Hewlett-Packard.Until Marissa Mayer's arrival at Yahoo, she was the only female head of a leading Internet-based company.
15/15 Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Mrs. Nooyi leads one of the world’s largest convenient food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion.
Although the study primary focusses on the US, much of what it shows is applicable to other countries, according to the writers.
The overall UK gender pay gap is 19.1 per cent, meaning a woman on average earns 80p for every £1 earned by a man - despite the Equal Pay Act coming into force in 1970.Reuse content