A New Study Says That It'll Take More Than 100 Years to Close the Gender Economic Gap

It’s no secret that dismantling institutional sexism is a long-term project, one that requires a large amount of effort from activists and lawmakers alike. Now, however, we can officially apply numbers to the major problem we see unfolding. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently calculated that it will take 202 years to close the gender economic gap across the globe, stating that the reason is because the "problem is so vast and the pace of change is so slow."

These numbers only tell part of the story, since gender equity is unevenly distributed throughout the globe and in individual communities. Broken down by region, the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report concludes that the gender gap will be closed in 61 years in Western Europe, but not for a whopping 171 years in East Asia. Places like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq have the biggest pay gap, with women being paid 30% less than men's wages.

While the study looks primarily at countries as a whole, the history of intersectional discrimination means the fight for the rights of marginalized women will likely be much more arduous and time-consuming. For instance, Leanin.org reports that black women in the U.S. earn 61 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, which is 21% lower than white women.

As part of their study, the WEF compiled a list ranking the gender equity gap in every country. The U.S. ranking is one of the most disappointing, but, frankly, unsurprising. At 51st in the world, the U.S. is beat by countries like the UK, Rwanda Latvia, and Canada—all of which are listed in the top 20. Countries at the bottom of the ranking include Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria.

The top four countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland) provide a practical blueprint for how countries can build a society allows women to gain power and prosper. In an in-depth study on why these Nordic countries rank so highly, the WEF found that their key attributes included female political representation, progressive policies, and paid maternal leave.