Wage Gap in India

In India, the Equal Remuneration Act 1976 is a law that states there must be Equal Pay for Equal Work. In brief, the act highlights:

“Duty of the employer to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature. — (1) No employer shall pay to any worker, employed by him in an establishment or employment, remuneration, whether payable in cash or in kind, at rates less favorable than those at which remuneration is paid by him to the workers of the opposite sex in such establishment or employment for performing the same work or work of a similar nature”.

Despite this, the Gender Wage Gap is a major problem faced by dozens of females in India. According to the latest ‘Monster Salary Index’ (MSI), men earned a median gross hourly salary of Rs 231.While women earned only Rs 184.8. Before this in 2016’s MSI, the median gross hourly salary for men was Rs. 345.8 and Rs. 259.8 for women. So women in India earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts.

Although, the gender pay gap has narrowed by about five percentage points from 24.8 percent in 2016. 20 is still rather an alarming number. Gender obviously plays an important parameter while determining salaries in India. Why is this so? And how do we solve this gender wage issue?


  • Job applications:

A fascinating study at HP revealed that men apply for jobs even if they meet only 60% of the job description. While women only apply if they meet 100% of the job description. Meaning men apply for more jobs resulting in the chance they’ll have jobs with a higher pay than women. In fact, Ernesto Reuben and his colleagues found that overconfidence and competitiveness among men explain about 18% of the gender pay gap.  

  • Lack of support for childcare:

Maternity leave policies are severely lacking globally, mothers don’t have flexible work. Meaning women have to restrict themselves due to childcare. Although some women work less once they have children, many don’t. Research indicates employers will pay them less too seemingly because they assume they also will be less committed. So since women earn less they’ll be given the housework and childcare duties. Because of this never-ending cycle, the wage gap will never cease to close.

  • Preference to promote men to leadership positions:

This comes from sociocultural biases that “men make better leaders”. Or perhaps we are just less judgmental towards men. Research has found that both male and female respondents confer lower status to women who showcase anger. But a higher status to men who showcase anger. So a woman in order to attain respect must be confident and competent, yet still remain warm and ladylike. That’s a lot of demands. No wonder men have it easier.

How Do We Close The Gap?

  • Companies need to actively invest in training and staff that can sensitize people to the issue of the gender pay gap. Organizations should not shy away from addressing sensitive topics like patriarchy and sexism. The workforce will then be more educated and informed. 
  • Women should be actively considered for leadership positions. We must hold mentoring schemes and leadership workshops for women. In order to make them more viable to supervisory positions.
  • Instead of women avoiding marriage and children, we should change the dynamics in both workplaces and public policy. Examples include companies putting less priority on long hours and face time. Or the government providing subsidized child care and moderate-length parental leave.

In conclusion, the wage gap is an issue if handled well can be solved. Afterall, we are all equal on this earth. Amy Poehler once said, “It’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.” We do not want equal pay, we need equal pay.

 About The Author

Aishwarya Bhethanabotla is a 12th-grade student, taking courses in science and math. She believes deeply that education is the only way to combat the patriarchy and will devote everything she has to empowering women since she believes it’s her duty as a feminist. Aishwarya loves reading books and you will often find one in her hand.

PhotoCredit: Livemint

Edited by: Dr. Shruti Kapoor