In countries where men and women tend to work in different occupations, pay inequality between them is lower, according to research by Warwick Business School, the Univerity of Cambridge and Lakehead University in Canada.
The study of 20 industrialised nations found that, when women work in careers that are not dominated by men, they are likely to earn more. In Brazil, Hungary, Mexico, Slovenia and Sweden, pay between men and women was found to be almost equal, because women and men tended to work in different occupations to a greater extent than in other countries.
The biggest pay inequality was found in Japan. The gender pay gap in Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the UK was found to be higher than average among the 20 countries.
Dr Girts Racko, assistant professor at Warwick Business School, said: “Higher overall segregation tends to reduce male advantage and improve the position of women.
“The greater the degree of overall segregation, the less the possibility exists for discrimination against women, and so there is more scope for women to develop progressive careers.
“For instance, within nursing, men disproportionately fill the senior positions, but the fewer the number of male nurses, the more the senior positions must be filled by women.”