No improvement in Singapore's gender pay gap since 2006: Report

ValuePenguin analysed data from the Ministry of Manpower which showed the median gross monthly income of men was 19 per cent higher than women. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - The gender pay gap in Singapore has not improved in the last 10 years, with men still earning nearly 20 per cent more than women, according to a study by consumer research firm ValuePenguin.

In some industries, this wage gap is as much as 40 per cent.

ValuePenguin analysed data from the Ministry of Manpower, which showed the median gross monthly income of men was about S$2,452 in 2006, about 19 per cent higher than S$2,053 for women.

Fast forward to 2016 and Singapore males' median monthly income rose to S$3,991, still 18 per cent higher than the median for females of S$3,382.

The monthly wage figures include employer Central Provident Fund contributions.

While Singapore's gender pay gap is still much better than what it is like in countries like Korea, where men make 37 per cent more than women, it shows there has been hardly any progress in the last decade, said ValuePenguin.

Its report does not say if national service contributes in any way to the gender wage gap in Singapore, for instance, with some employers offering men higher starting salaries to compensate for two years of full-time military service.

But digging further into the data, ValuePenguin said it found that certain industries here had a much wider gender pay gap than others.

Health and social service, manufacturing, public administration and education, information and communications, financial and insurance services and professional services had some of the widest income gaps in the country, where men made more than S$1,000 per month more than women. In contrast, transportation and storage stood out as a sector where women made much more than men.

On the opposite end of the spectrum were industries that had the most equal level of wages for men and women. These tended to be arts, entertainment and recreation, labour-intensive industries like agriculture, fishing, quarrying, utilities, sewerage and waste management, and administrative and support services.

Worth noting is that sectors where women make as much as, if not more than, men tend to be low paying - jobs whose median wage ranged from around S$2,000 to S$4,000 monthly - while the wide-gap industries tended to pay S$5,000 to S$6,4000 per month.

In terms of industries that narrowed the wage gap by the biggest margin, we saw the biggest improvements in financial and insurance services, information and communications, and health and social service, where the wage gap has always been the biggest.

For instance, men in financial service made S$1,653 more per month than women in finance in 2015. By 2016, however, men made S$731 per month more than women, an improvement of almost S$900.

In other news on Singapore's gender pay gap, the National University of Singapore Business School in March released a study that found women company directors here are paid, on average, a whopping 40 per cent less than their male peers.

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