Find out what the punishment gap is

Women face greater penalties for the same mistakes than men do, even though they are twice as likely to be wrong

Find out what the punishment gap is

When we talk about the gender gap in the labor field, the most common aspects to deal with are the difference in salary or hiring decisions, but the truth is that the gap does not end there.

Leer en español: Descubre qué es la brecha del castigo

The Bank of England conducted a study that analyzed the career of more than 1.2 million people who have worked in the US financial industry, from 2005 to 2015. The study found that women have 20% more odds of losing their job and 30% less chance of finding new employment after an incident of inappropriate behavior compared to men.

The repercussions

The professors in charge of the Bank of England’s study point out that unlike the gender gap caused by the difference in salary or hiring rates, the punishment gap remains throughout the career path because the inappropriate behavior in which the employee incurs remains in his/her record and makes it harder for him/her to get a job again.

Likewise, in general terms, if in the future this situation is maintained and women continue in a different standard, the professional progression of women in the financial industry could be limited.

The reason for the gap

One might believe that women are the most affected because they make more costly mistakes for companies, that they are less productive in companies, or that they make mistakes more often than men.

Also read: Pink Tax: The hidden rate that women must pay

However, the figures show otherwise. Men are twice as likely to be repeat offenders and to commit inappropriate behaviors that turn out to be 20% more expensive. It is pointed out that instead of relating to the consequences of productivity, the reason for the punishment gap is found in the group of people who are at the head of the companies.


The punishment gap varies between companies depending on the number of men and women in management or higher positions.

In companies without female executive representation, women are 42% more likely to be dismissed for misconduct than men are.

On the other hand, in companies with equal representation of male and female executives the consequences for both genders when making mistakes are similar.

It does not only affect women

The Bank of England notes that not only women are affected by the punishment gap. A similar punishment gap was documented for men belonging to ethnic minorities, since they are more likely to experience firings or harsher consequences compared to men who are not part of minorities.

It was also found that the punishment gap is smaller in companies that have members of ethnic minorities in managerial and executive positions.

This study provides new evidence on the issue of the gender gap in the labor field, and shows the difficulties that still exist for women and ethnic minorities in wanting to advance in this industry.

"The effects of the gender penalty gap are costly, long-lasting and, ultimately, can contribute to the glass ceiling women face in finance."


LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Barinas
Translated from “Descubre qué es la brecha del castigo”

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