Why women shouldn’t hold their breath that wage gap will soon close

Posted at 9:31 PM, Oct 27, 2014

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Women — if you’re waiting for the wage gap to close soon, don’t hold your breath.

Currently, there’s no country in the entire world where a woman earns as much as a man for doing the same job. And it’s going to take another 81 years for the gender gap to close, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum.

Sure, the gap is narrowing. Very slowly.

The U.S., for instance, narrowed its wage gap by 1% to 66% in one year “meaning that women earn about two-thirds of what men earn for similar work according to the perception of business leaders,” WEF’s economist Saadia Zahidi said. The U.S. also ranked 65th in wage equality among 142 countries in the report.

The WEF measured the pay gap by polling CEOs around the world about salaries of their employees. Here are some other findings.

Italian women don’t make even half: Italy and Israel made it to the top of the heap in terms of countries that offer the most equal opportunities for women. But a woman earned only 48% of a man’s salary in Italy and 47% in Israel.

Burundi is surprise winner: Some of the world’s poorest countries lead the equality ranking. Burundi, where four out of five people live below the poverty line, is the top country in women’s pay. Women in the tiny African country earn 83% of salaries of the men in the same jobs.

Women earn more in Denmark: Denmark is the only place where women earn on average more than men — although the difference is just 2%. But that’s because there are many more women in better paid jobs. However, even in Denmark, when they are both doing the same job, a woman will earn 71% of what a man makes.

More powerful in Jamaica and Rwanda: Jamaica, Colombia, Lesotho and Fiji are the only four countries with more female legislators, senior officials and managers. In Jamaica, women do 59% of all top level jobs. Rwanda is the only country with more female parliamentarians — women hold 64 seats in its 100-seat parliament.

Where women work more: Only four countries in the world have higher proportion of women at work than men. In Malawi 85% of women work compared to 81% of men. Mozambique, Rwanda and Burundi show similar trend.

Fewest women in workforce: At the opposite end, Algeria, Iran and Syria have the lowest female participation in the labor force with less than one in five women working outside their home.

Jordanian women lose the most: Economic prospects for women deteriorated the most in Jordan. Ranked 140, the country finished third from the bottom, ahead of only Pakistan and Syria. Yet just last year, Jordan was ranked 128 in workplace opportunities.

School for all: Girls and women have equal access to education in only 25 of the 142 countries.

Norway and Singapore best in developed world: Women’s wages come closest to men’s in Norway and Singapore, but even there it’s still at 80%.