What Is Gender Parity in Finance?

A man and a woman sit on a wall talking.
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DEFINITION

Gender parity in finance refers to a statistical measure that compares the same information across genders. It involves examining a particular financial indicator, such as average income or net worth, to assess how equal the values are between the genders. 

Definition and Examples of Gender Parity in Finance

Gender parity in finance is a metric that compares a financial-related indicator of one gender to another. Gender parity is typically used to identify where women are not equal to men with regard to financial opportunities, but it includes comparisons of any one gender to another.

This measure can be compared in dollar values such as dollars earned by gender or in percentages such as participation rates in the workforce. When the values for the same financial indicator for different genders are on par, this indicates parity. In contrast, disparity occurs when the values aren’t equal. 

While you’ll often see the terms used together, gender parity differs from gender equality, which is more about equal access to opportunities and resources regardless of gender.

Some indicators used to assess gender parity in finance focus on workforce participation, income, pay raises, executive positions, debt levels, retirement savings, and net worth. For example, Q1 2022 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showed that men earned a $1,118 median weekly wage vs. just $937 for women. This means a woman made 83.8 cents for each dollar a man made.

How Gender Parity in Finance Works

Several cultural and socioeconomic factors can affect gender parity in finance. For example, cultural beliefs on gender roles can encourage or discourage employment for women or limit their access to certain job roles. This, in turn, can affect labor participation rates, wages, and representation in leadership positions.

In addition, access to education can both affect a person’s lifetime earnings as well as their job opportunities. Developing countries, primarily developing countries, may have logistical challenges for women, such as a lack of safe transportation or affordable child care.

In general, women experience more challenges than men in finding suitable work that pays enough and fits their family’s needs. In addition, they take on more unpaid domestic work such as taking care of their children and maintaining their homes. 

For example, women who have trouble affording child care might not work at all or they may only be able to work part time. This is especially the case in cultures where men are seen as the primary earners in the family.  

In addition, gender discrimination in hiring, compensation, and promotion decisions can put someone at a financial disadvantage based on their gender. Discrimination can affect their potential income, job security, and advancement opportunities. Laws in some countries that prohibit workplace gender discrimination can positively contribute to equality.

Gender Parity Indicators in Finance

Gender parity numbers can underscore challenges that make it harder for someone to save money, pay off debt, and cover everyday expenses. 

Here are some everyday examples of gender parity in finance using different indicators. (Keep in mind that several factors may contribute to the disparities.)

  • About 68% of men aged 16 and older participated in the workforce vs. about 57% of women in early 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
  • Women had 55% of the median net worth of men before adjusting the raw data in 2021, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 
  • Lender Earnest found that its female loan applicants had an average net worth of $5,541 versus $12,188 for male loan applicants.
  • Men had a debt level of $103,702 vs. $85,169 for women in Q2 2019, according to Experian.

Use of Gender Parity Indicators

You can look at data on gender parity for insight into how employment and financial conditions differ between genders. Governments and businesses can look at financial indicators by gender to make decisions that promote gender parity and then monitor their progress. 

For example, governments can pass laws to ensure equal pay and job access, so that people will be paid fairly for the same work. Government safety net programs that subsidize child care costs can make it easier for women to work.

At the same time, government or company rules on paid parental leave can reduce the burden of parents losing income for time off after adoption or childbirth. In addition, policies that make education more accessible and affordable can help women train for higher-paying jobs.

However, keep in mind that gender parity indicators alone don’t provide a complete picture of equality. For example, the gender differences in labor participation rates don’t address job quality differences.

Key Takeaways

  • Gender parity in finance is a measure of how a particular financial statistic for one gender compares to another. 
  • Policy makers can turn to gender parity indicators to help with making policy decisions.
  • Factors such as education levels, cultural gender roles, the legal environment, discrimination, and economic necessity can all affect gender parity.
  • Generally, gender parity tends to show that women earn less, participate less in the workforce, have less in retirement savings, and are less likely to advance to C-level positions.
  • Gender parity also shows that men tend to have a higher net worth but also a higher overall debt level than women.

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