The Kenya Forum | The gender pay gap in Kenya - The Kenya Forum

December 14, 2012


The gender pay gap in Kenya. Sometimes it is hard to be a woman. Here in Kenya, women earn less than men and the cause is multifaceted.

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The gender pay gap in Kenya

The gender pay gap in Kenya

UPDATED: 3pm, 14 Dec. 2012 (see end of article)

When 26 year-old Mercy got the call back for an interview she had attended a month before, she was “over the Moon”. She had just landed a new job and was sure it was going to be for better pay. She was offered Sh30,000 a month as a starting salary but confessed that although it was more than what she was earning in her previous workplace, she had expected more.  Mercy’s mistake was that through fear of losing the job she did not negotiate for more and only realised that she had sold herself low the moment she walked out of the HR’s office.

Mercy’s dilemma, how to ask for a pay rise without risking the job offer, is not new to many women who in most cases just settle for what is available out of fear of creating a conflict.


A recent article in Healthy Woman magazine illustrated how women settle for less pay in the corporate world, not because their male counterparts are better than them but because the latter are more adept risk takers.

Research shows that while women start at the same wage rates as men at entry level they will earn much less over the following years. This has been attributed to the fact that women often sell themselves short and society has cultured the girl child to be a good girl, take the back seat, be patient and things will fall into place.

So whereas the man rolls up his sleeves  and clears his throat as he walks in the big guy’s office to negotiate his salary, or ask for a pay rise, women on the other hand often settle for what is put on the table with the hope that things will get better with time.


On average, women are said to make about 77 Shillings out of every 100 Shillings men earn.

A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) highlights various factors that can impact on rates of pay. These include working hours, job type, employment sector and education qualifications.

Most women, especially those raising families, are faced with time constraints something that in most cases will see them prefer a strictly 8am-5pm job.

Women also choose to work in sectors of the economy where there are fewer opportunities to advance into higher-paying jobs. They tend to go for more hospitable jobs which do not have much pay compared to fields where men dominate like engineering and computer science.


That is only part of the story, however. Gender discrimination has been cited in most cases as the major reason in the wage gap between men and women but experts believe poor negotiation skills by women have given men an edge.

Legislation to try and ensure equal pay for equal work can help the predicament that many women find themselves in when negotiating rates of pay but ultimately it is up to Kenyan women to make it happen by demanding more to get paid what they are worth.


it pays to do a background check and get to know what the salary range in the job market is for the position you are aiming for. this will ensure that you are better placed for a salary negotiation.

its also vital to know your worth, in order to ask for what you deserve. if you don’t know this then you will always settle for less because you dont value what your bringing on the table.

well, as the famous quote goes “If you settle for anything, you WILL get anything.”


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