The workplace gender gap has improved dramatically in recent decades, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that women will make up 47 percent of the labor force in 2024.
However, a very real pay gap still exists, and women are still underrepresented in a number of occupations, particularly those in the tech industry — only 20 percent of tech jobs are held by women.
In recent years, though, a growing number of women have benefited from the flexibility of remote work. Let’s dive into the current state of the gender gap, and explore how remote work could change the future of women in the workforce.
Facts About the Workforce Gender Gap
Before we look at how remote work can help to close the gender gap, we must first understand how that gap is manifested in today’s workforce.
To do that, let’s examine some facts:
- Working mothers say that having children makes it difficult to advance in their career: Data from Pew Research Center found that while 51 percent of women say having children makes it harder to advance their careers, only 16 percent of men said the same thing.
- Women with college degrees are paid 7 percent less than their male counterparts: Research from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) concluded that within one year of graduation, women are paid 7 percent less than men, despite the fact that there are more college-educated women than men.
- One-quarter of women say they’ve been paid less than men doing the same job: A survey from Pew Research Center revealed that 25 percent of women report earning less than a man doing the same, compared to just 5 percent of men.
- Women who ask for raises are less likely to get them than men: According to a study from Harvard University, women who ask for raises receive them 15 percent of the time, while men get their requested raise 20 percent of the time.
So, although the gender gap has narrowed significantly over time — only one in three women participated in the workforce in 1950, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to do if we want to see the gap eliminated altogether.
How Remote Work Can Help Women Achieve Workplace Equality
In the face of modern gender inequality, remote work may provide women with an opportunity to pursue their careers while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
After all, remote work is on the rise: A Gallup survey found that 43 percent of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016. And, with a FlexJobs survey finding that hiring managers expect one-third of their employees to work remotely in the next decade, it’s clear that remote work isn’t going anywhere.
How can remote work help women in particular? These are the top five ways:
- More flexibility for mothers: As mentioned earlier, Pew Research Center found that working mothers are more likely to make career-related sacrifices than working fathers. In fact, 42 percent of mothers reduced their work hours to care for a child or family member, compared to 28 percent of fathers. For women who are reluctant to put their work on hold to care for their children, remote work can allow them to pursue their career from home, and have some flexibility in their environment.
- Opportunities regardless of geography: The gender pay gap in rural areas is even worse than it is in cities — the United Nations states that it can be as high as 40 percent. So, remote work can give rural women the opportunity to secure jobs they might otherwise lack access to.
- Women supporting women: According to statistics gathered by Remote.co remote companies have nearly four times as many women CEOs as S&P 500 companies. This means that women who work remotely have a higher chance of joining companies run by other women.
Women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from remote work, of course: Working fathers, disabled persons and people without reliable transportation can all enjoy the flexibility it of remote work.
Additionally, employers have found that offering remote work saves money and boosts productivity. According to data aggregated by Global Workplace Analytics:
- Two-thirds of employers report that their telecommuting employees demonstrate increased productivity — for example, remote workers at American Express produced 43 percent more than in-office workers.
- Ninety-five percent of employers say that remote work has significantly impacted employee retention.
- Major companies have saved millions of dollars with remote work: IBM eliminated $30 million in real estate costs alone.
Only time will tell if remote work can successfully help women to close the gender gap, but based on current data, the future looks bright.