Defining Gender Gap
1. A gender gap, by definition, is a disproportionate difference or disparity between the sexes. Conventional wisdom is that differences between boys and girls in math and science are not a matter of biology; any observable differences are influences of the social environment. When parents encourage school-age children to excel in all subject areas, the school-based gender gap disappears.
In the workplace, gender gaps refer to job opportunities and salary differences. Statistics show that men often earn more for the same work than women. The difference may be a result of the fact that men have been at the top of their professions longer. It takes a long time to undo the past, but bit by bit, the playing field has become more even.
2. The difference that exists between males and females in access to some social good or benefit based solely on their difference in gender (a difference almost always in favor of men). For example, the gender gap in education refers to the increased likelihood of better educational opportunity and achievement for males than females in most societies.
3. When economists speak of the “gender gap” these days, they usually are referring to systematic differences in the outcomes that men and women achieve in the labor market. These differences are seen in the percentages of men and women in the labor force, the types of occupations they choose, and their relative incomes or hourly wages. These economic gender gaps, which were salient issues during the women’s movement in the 1960s and 1970s, have been of interest to economists at least since the 1890s.