Is the gender gap "muted?"
Yes, according to Thomson Reuters' New Professional Survey, the results of which were released last week. The survey polled 1,000 professional in developed (workers in the USA and UK) and emerging markets (workers in Brazil, China and India) around the world about their work habits, attitudes and plans for the future.
The survey asked participants to state to what extent they agreed with a list of statements including "solving problems is very important to me" and "I want to be able to be entrepreneurial in my job." From these results, the report concluded that "men and women are nearly identical on work style and habits." The only difference Reuters found was that women "crave validation" for their work more than men, and describe themselves as more caring, good-natured, supportive, logical, sociable and meticulous than their male counterparts.
Fifty-two percent of the professionals in emerging markets that Reuters surveyed believed they would see an equal number of male and female corporate executives within the next 25 years, compared to 36 percent of professionals in developed markets. And 32 percent of individuals in developed countries and 42 percent in emerging markets believed that the wage gap between genders would close in that same time period.
However, despite reporting on the positive attitudes about gender inequality that some professionals hold, the survey did not include data on the current state of the gender wage gap. This led Amanda Hess at Slate to question the claim that the gender gap is "muted" or closing:
All I’m seeing here is that people in developed markets are pessimistic about their own careers and also the careers of women in the future, while people in emerging markets are slightly less fatalistic. Also, that Reuters may not have a very good handle on what the “gender gap” is.
Though we'd love to believe the wage gap is closing, this particular data set doesn't convince us either.