According to the 2008 Global Gender Gap Report, women are equally as healthy and well educated as men, but are still less likely to occupy top management and political positions.
In 2008, women are still paid less than men in many labor sectors and, in many cases, not given any sort of compensation for maternity leave.
"The most important factor is discontinuous labor force experience, primarily due to women taking time out of the labor force to bear and raise children," Sherrilyn Billger, Illinois State University associate professor of economics, said.
The disparity may also be a result of traditional values held within the many cultures of the United States.
"In Mexican culture, it's believed that the man is the worker and the woman stays at home," Fernando Jimenez, a sophomore music education major, said. "It's weird for people to get used to change, but it's happening every day."
"Women of all ethnicities earn lower pay than their male counterparts," Billger said. "Latinas receive particularly low wages on average."
Women also make less money after they leave their jobs to raise children, sometimes creating doubts about whether they can balance their professional lives with their personal lives or if they can keep their jobs while raising a family.
According to Laura Tyson, professor of business administration and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, neither the American government nor American businesses pay for maternity leave.
Tyson explained in a YouTube video that the lack of compensation for maternity leave usually forces women to leave their jobs, making it more difficult for them to advance to prominent political and managerial positions.
The gender equality gap is significantly less in European and Scandinavian countries, which hold better policies on affirmative action and work-life balance.
These countries rated in the top five for gender equality, while the United States placed 27th-just one spot above Kazakhstan and 12 slots below France.
Compensation for maternity and paternity leave in the Scandinavian countries have allowed women to advance to better paying, more powerful positions.