This Calculator Does the Math on the Wage Gap—But the Solutions Aren’t As Simple

Since 2014, Omni Calculator has been putting out easy-to-use calculators that help compute everything from sales tax to body mass index (BMI). But more recently, it expanded to include a new page: a Gender Wage Gap Calculator.


As Omni’s calculators go, this one is relatively simple. The page asks for your gender, salary, and the country in which you are employed, and then gives back information both about the wage gap in that country (a range between 2.1% in Slovenia to 36.7% in South Korea) as well as the amount of money you would make there as a person of the opposite gender. These are the only factors the calculator takes into account, although there are certainly more to be considered: for instance, in the United States, which has an average gender wage gap of 17.5%, one’s job can make the difference between the almost nonexistent wage gap for counselors or massage therapists and the nearly 30% gap between the wages of men and women in computer programming and dentistry.

The Gender Wage Gap Calculator is one of the first not to live up to its site’s mission statement: to make “every calculation-based problem trivial to solve for anyone.” Gender inequality is not trivial, and in its case (unlike those of sales taxes or BMIs) an awareness of the correct answer is unlikely to constitute an automatic solution.

Piotr Małek, Business Development Manager at Omni Calculator, told Ms. that they created the calculator to raise awareness of the problem. But awareness can only be the first step.

High-level changes are the most obvious answer to such a systematic inequality. Because women, especially women of color, constitute the majority of low-wage workers, one practical solution would be raising the minimum wage. Some states have already put into place such measures, like those recently passed in New York and California which committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2022, and others are considering it. Nationwide policy improvements such as investing in affordable childcare and passing paid medical leave programs could also considerably improve wage equality for working women. Organizations such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) provide further information on the gender wage gap, and often launch actions seeking to close the wage gap.

But how about combating the gender pay gap on a more personal level? One frequently raised issue is pay transparency. Increased transparency can be brought about through policies like Montana’s proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, but many sources have also suggested that it can be strengthened by something as simple as women talking about their salaries – to co-workers as well as bosses. Ideally, this would improve awareness of the exact pay discrepancies within a workplace, providing women with a weighty argument in subsequent efforts to negotiate their own salaries.

None of these approaches, of course, can individually offer a perfect solution to a problem with which women been contending for a very long time. But just as ever, awareness and action go hand in hand.


Emma Watson is an editorial intern at Ms. and a rising senior at Smith College, where she studies English literature and neuroscience and works as a peer writing tutor. She has a zeal for fiction, through which she engages with queer and feminist issues. Emma spends her free time listening to sea ballads and writing peculiar YA fantasy novels.