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  • Katica Roy

What Does “The Gender Gap” Actually Refer To?

Welcome to my weekly Q&A feature. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)

If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it. The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. Each week I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.

The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusion.

  • Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.

  • Inclusion: bringing others along on the journey.

Be Brave™


Defining The Gender Gap In The Language Of Data


When people talk about the gender gap, what are they actually referring to?

Curious about something? ​Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of Brave Souls®.


The “gender gap” could refer to a range of discrepancies that exist between genders. It depends on who you ask and the context in which they use the term. If the term seems ambiguous, it’s because it is. So think about it this way:

The Gender Gap = A Framework To Describe A Given Data Set

The “gender gap” is a framework to describe a given data set. That’s it. A lexical catch-all for data analysis. Simply append the subject matter of a given data set into the middle of the term “gender gap” and bingo—you know what it’s referring to.

Let’s walk through an example to make this concrete.

Imagine we are analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on median wages. We decide to disaggregate the data by gender. When we do, we find that women earn a weekly median salary of $789 whereas men earn a weekly median salary of $973.

We can describe the relationship among our data in the language of gender equity: there is a $184 gender gap between men’s and women’s median weekly salaries. This is one example of the gender gap in terms of weekly wages.

Here are some other gender gaps you may have seen, experienced, or read about before:

The gender wealth gap: Single women hold only 32 cents of wealth for every dollar single men own

The gender political gap: Women are 51% of the population but hold only 27% of US congressional seats

The gender tariff gap: The average tariff on men’s apparel is 11.9% compared to 15.1% for women’s apparel

The gender student loan gap: Women are 58% of undergraduates yet hold 67% of all student loan debt

The gender mortgage rate gap: Women’s mortgage rates are 0.04% higher than men’s

The gender AI gap: Women are 39% of the global labor force but only 32% of AI professionals worldwide

The gender CEO gap: Women are 47% of the US labor base but make up only 8.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs

Why Do We Have So Many Gender Gaps?

The presence of a gender gap is a function of two factors:

Factor #1: Increasing availability of gender-disaggregated data (+ the democratization of analytic tools to study the data)

Factor #2: Raw gender inequity

To be clear, gender inequity has been with us for centuries. Quality, gender-disaggregated data sets are a more recent phenomenon. And it’s with these data sets that we uncover—and will continue uncovering—gaps between genders.

When I say that it’s my life’s mission to close the gender equity gap once and for all, I’m referring to the aggregate of these gender gaps. I believe that:

  • Your gender should not determine your median weekly salary.

  • Your gender should not regulate your mortgage rate.

  • Your gender should not socialize you away from science, math, or technology.

Everyone, regardless of gender, should have the freedom to step into a life the size of their dreams. That freedom is waiting for us on the other side of the gender gap.

Curious about something? ​Ask your question here for a chance to have it answered in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.

© 2022 Katica Roy™, Inc.


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