This is the reality facing South African women, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF’s) Global Gender Gap Report 2017, making our country one of the worst offenders in terms of this disparity

That might sound horrifying, but percentages tend to be somewhat technical. To help women grasp what the gender pay gap actually means, Code4Africa has developed a calculator, based on estimated earned income data from the WEF’s report (you can access the tool at Type in your country, your gender and your monthly salary, and it will calculate how much more the men in your office are taking home every month.

The results are upsetting. For instance, if you’re earning R50 000, Vuyo in the office next to yours – doing the same work on the same team – is probably getting R84 000.


Code4Africa’s Chris Roper notes that SA’s sizeable gender pay gap makes it the sixth-worst offender in Africa, behind countries like Liberia, where there’s a pay gap of about 2%. There, if a woman’s earning an average of L$50 000, her male counterparts are getting about L$51 000.

Why are South African organisations failing their female employees so drastically? “The very generalised answer would be that SA’s still an overwhelmingly patriarchal society and women don’t have equal access to the same resources as men, be it education, health or legal services,” says Roper. This is exacerbated by the absence of political will to change women’s circumstances.

“We need more women in government to push the agenda of gender equality, but the current politicians don’t seem to be up the task. The crassest recent example was the ANC Women’s League including six men in its delegation to the ANC, with Bathabile Dlamini defending the move on the grounds that women often lose arguments because they get too emotional.”

Lindiwe Sebesho, Master Reward Specialist and an Exco member of the South African Reward Association, adds other factors to the mix: “In SA, we see little female representation at senior organisation levels. This could be because the glass ceiling’s still in place, limiting women from advancing their corporate careers, even if they have similar or better qualifications and experience than their male colleagues. There are also social and labour market distortions which tend to restrict women’s education and career options. And, of course, the ‘motherhood penalty’ imposed on women who take time off to raise families affects salaries.”