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15 Examples of Gender Inequality in Everyday Life

Gender inequality is everywhere. According to the World Economic Forum, it could take another 131 years to achieve global gender parity. Inequality affects the treatment, rights and opportunities of women, girls and transgender and gender-diverse people the most, but everyone deals with negative effects. Crises like war, climate change and pandemics can make things worse. How does gender inequality manifest in everyday life? Here are 15 examples:

# Topic
1 Women make less money
2 More girls are out of school
3 More women and girls are killed by people they know
4 Women and girls experience more sexual violence
5 Women do more unpaid work
6 Women cook more
7 Transgender and gender-diverse people face more discrimination
8 Women are sexually harassed at work more often
9 STEM jobs are gendered
10 Caretaker jobs are gendered
11 Women experience worse mental health
12 Women get worse healthcare
13 Paternity leave is stigmatized
14 Products for women cost more
15 Women get trapped in car crashes more often

#1. Women make less money than men

The pay gap is one of the most consequential examples of everyday gender inequality. According to the UN, women make only 77 cents for every dollar men earn, even when they do comparable work. The gap widens for women who have children. Country specifics also reveal racial inequalities. In the United States, Hispanic women earned 57.5 cents for every dollar in 2022, while Black women made 69.1 cents. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that if progress doesn’t speed up, it could take 30 years for the US to reach pay equity.

#2. Girls are more likely to be out of school

Education access has improved over the years, but large gaps are still an issue. According to the World Bank, 88% of girls are enrolled in primary school on a global level, but 78% are enrolled in low-income countries. The gap widens in secondary school; only 31% of girls are enrolled in low-income countries compared to the 66% global average. Conflict plays a big role. Girls are 2.5 times more likely than boys to leave school during crises, which impacts their economic opportunities, safety, health and more.

#3. Women and girls are more likely to be murdered by people they know

While men are overall more likely to be murdered, women and girls are more likely to be killed by people they know. Family members or intimate partners commit around 55% of female homicides. That means every hour, more than five women or girls are murdered by someone in their family. Because it’s much harder to avoid violent family members or partners, everyday life for women and girls can be dangerous.

#4. Women and girls experience more sexual violence

For many women and girls, the threat of sexual violence is persistent. According to UN Women, 26% of women 15 years and older have endured intimate partner violence, which means their abuser is a romantic and/or sexual partner. Around 15 million girls 15-19 years old have experienced forced sex at some point. Men experience sexual violence, too; according to stats from the United States, around 24.8% of men have experienced unwanted sexual contact. The numbers show it’s much more common for women and girls. The true prevelance is unknown as sexual violence is significantly underreported.

#5. Women do more unpaid work

Life is more than paid work and play; people must cook, clean, do laundry, care for children and more. Women do most of this unpaid labor. According to Oxfam, the world’s women and girls complete more than ¾ of all unpaid work. That accounts for 12.5 billion hours of unpaid work every day. It’s worse for rural women from low-income countries. They can spend up to 14 hours a day doing unpaid care work. This limits their educational and economic opportunities.

Gender inequality can manifest in subtle ways. When I was in high school, the girls noticed that one of the male teachers only seemed to call on boys. We started an informal experiment where we raised our hands for every question. More times than not, he would always call on a boy if they had their hands up, too. While we could never prove he was sexist, we felt invisible and undervalued.

#6. Women cook more

Let’s look closer at one example of unpaid work: cooking. It’s an everyday task that takes significant planning, energy and time. According to one survey, women cook more meals than men in almost every country. In 2022, that totaled a little less than nine meals a week. Men cooked four meals a week. In places like Ethiopia, Egypt, Yemen and Nepal, women cooked eight more meals than men. Italy was the only place where men cooked more than women. The reasons vary, but cooking is typically considered a domestic and “feminine” job. Because of this stereotype, women end up saddled with extra unpaid work.

#7. Discrimination affects gender-diverse and transgender people more than their cisgender counterparts

Gender-diverse and transgender people don’t identify with the sex they were assigned at birth and/or traditional gender binaries. Gender inequality affects them, too. According to research, trans people are more than four times more likely than cis people to experience violence, including rape and sexual assault. Households with a trans person also have higher rates of property victimization. Discrimination extends into every area of life, including employment, housing and healthcare. According to the Human Rights Campaign, discrimination disproportionately affects young trans women of color.

#8. Women are sexually harassed at work more often

Work should be a safe place for everyone, but women deal with more sexual harassment. According to the International Labour Organization, young women are twice as likely as young men to experience sexual violence and harassment at work. Migrant women are especially vulnerable; they’re twice as likely as non-migrant women to report harassment. Not every industry is the same. According to the Center for American Progress, women who work in male-dominated fields, like warehousing and construction, are most likely to report harassment. Most people who experience harassment never report it, however, so harassment is happening a lot more often than we know.

#9. STEM jobs are gendered

The STEM field, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, has been male-dominated for many years. Gender stereotyping is one of the main reasons why. Historically, most societies didn’t believe women were fit for these types of jobs. The consequences are still with us today. According to research from LinkedIn, women fill only 3 out of 10 STEM roles around the world. This represents an improvement, but at the pace of progress, it will take 90 years for women to make up half of the global STEM workforce.

#10. Caretaker jobs are gendered (and undervalued)

While women are underrepresented in STEM jobs, they perform most caretaker jobs. According to the International Labour Organization, women fill 88% of the personal care worker jobs, which include home healthcare assistants, while men fill 12%. Women also dominate the cleaning, food prep, teaching and clerical support fields. Their work tends to go unappreciated, however. According to the Economic Policy Institute, American home healthcare and childcare workers make just $13.81 and $13.51 an hour. That’s half of the average hourly wage for workers in general.

Gender equality jobs can help reduce inequality and empower women and girls.

#11. Women experience worse mental health

Everyone can experience mental health problems, but women and girls are at a higher risk. According to 2017 data, women are three times more likely than men to have common mental health issues. They’re also three times more likely to experience eating disorders and PTSD. The picture gets more complicated when it comes to suicide. While men are 2-4 times more likely to die by suicide, women are three times more likely to attempt suicide. Stigma could be one reason why. Because of gender stereotypes, men may be less likely to report mental health problems or seek help, which is another example of how inequality hurts everyone.

#12. Healthcare professionals take women less seriously

Everyone should be able to go into a doctor’s office and feel respected. Because of gender inequality, women face more challenges. Doctors often take women less seriously and quickly label health issues as “anxiety,” which results in worse healthcare. According to one study, women who went to the emergency room with severe stomach pain waited 33% longer than men with the same symptoms. Black women face even more discrimination. According to research, doctors are twice as likely to deny Black women pain medication during birth than white women.

#13. Taking paternity leave is stigmatized

Paternity leave used to be rare. The prevailing view was that women were responsible for childcare, while men needed to stay at work. Now, 63% of countries guarantee paid parental leave. Only seven countries – including the United States – do not. Even in countries where paternity leave is provided, families deal with stigma. A small 2020 study from the UK found that 73% of men believed there was a stigma to taking paternity leave, while 95% wanted workplaces to “normalize” taking paternity leave. Gendered stereotypes about parenting harm everyone and allow gender inequality to thrive.

#14. Products for women can cost more

People of all genders use products like razors, soap and lotion, but the ones designed for women often cost more. According to data from the World Economic Forum, personal care products marketed to American women can cost 13% more than the same products for men. This disparity is called “the pink tax.” While it’s not an official tax, cost differences affect accessories, clothing, dry cleaning, and other products and services. Women may pay thousands of dollars more over their lifetimes because of their gender.

#15. Men get in more car crashes (but women are more likely to be trapped)

For many people, driving a car is an everyday occurrence. Women could face some unique risks. According to a study of UK data, while men were more likely to be involved in serious crashes, women were twice as likely to be trapped after a car crash. Women also experienced more injuries to the hip and spine, while men were injured on their heads, face, chest and limbs. While the cause of this disparity isn’t obvious, it could be because crash test dummies are modeled after male bodies. Identifying the less clear reasons for gender inequality is essential to people’s health and safety.

Want to learn more about gender equality? Here’s our Gender Equality 101 article.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.