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Sunday, 10 January 2016

THE GENDER PAY GAP: MYTH OR MATH?



Women are earning just 80p to every £1 that men receive, according to recent figures. 

Despite feminism's best efforts, Office for National Statistics released figures that the gender pay gap has changed “relatively little” over the past four years. 

The pay gap can be down to a number of reasons, and women are increasingly finding themselves falling down the ‘hidden gap’ of the motherhood penalty, according to Daisy Sands, Head of Policy at the Fawcett Society. 

“When women step away from the labour market to start a family, they find themselves going back part time or being downgraded.” 

Heather works in the social work sector, and experienced this ‘hidden’ gap on maternity leave.  

“Part of the problem is that women still tend to be the ones who give up work or reduce their hours once the children start to arrive. They lose out in a few pay rises over the years because of maternity leave, especially when pay is based on performance. After all, how can you perform well in work if you aren't there?” 

Motherhood penalty can have a negative impact on careers as salaries are seen to decrease by 4% for each child a woman has. However, the father of that child then receives a 6% pay rise. 

Hodges and Budig, in their recent analysis, asked the question: 
How much more do men earn when they become fathers, relative to being childless? 

Our key findings are that, all else equal, fatherhood increases men’s earnings by over 6%. We call this the daddy bonus and defined the statistics with first-time fatherhood as a man who became a father by birth or adoption and who co-resides with the child. Thus, single fathers who co-reside with their child(ren) are included.” 

“The opposite is true for women, childcare time increases with more children born, presumably because with larger numbers of children, fathers and mothers experience greater gender divisions of paid and unpaid work.” 

Although, a lot of women return to work part-time after having children, as opposed to their full time position before, these statistics still take into account the pay difference in their own wage. 

Denise, a working mum of two, knows what it is like to balance a full time job and children. 

I’m lucky enough that when I chose to go back to work full time, family could help me out with childcare, rather than hiring a child-minder. I work in investment banking and the pay gap can be unfair, with it mainly being down to a more male dominated profession. I used to work with someone who did the exact same job as me, but because he was a male, he earned 5K more.” 

“There is not a grading scale per job level in investment banking either and it is known for its ‘boys club culture.’”  

“There is also very few women who get into more senior levels, such as directing, and it certainly has nothing to do with the woman being less qualified or experienced. At the moment I’m finding it difficult to climb up the ladder because I’m just back from maternity leave.”  

Since 2014 the pay gap has remained at around £100 a week, and according to Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, men working full time earn an average of £567 a week, while women receive £471. 

The Office of National Statistics revealed that the gender gap falls at 14.2% in 2015, as a result. 
“These figures show that the glass ceiling is barely cracked, let alone broken,” according to TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady. 

Eamonn Campbell, Assistant Service and Conditions Officer for Unison Scotland says, “The statistics show that the gap is slowly closing, but not as fast as it should be. It could take up to 54 years for women to reach an equal pay match with men.” 

I am aware that in spite of equalities legislation we still live in a society where work roles are very gender defined. When someone turns up at the workplace they arrive with a whole set of expectations, or lack of expectations.  Society at large is unequal and the workplace reflects these inequalities.” 

David Cameron has vowed to, “end the gender pay gap in a generation,” and set out new rules forcing every company that employs more than 250 people to publish the difference between the average pay of its male and female employees. 

Both the TUC and the Fawcett Society agree that the Government must do more, and call for action plans for employers to close the pay gap in their workplace, along with penalties for those who fail to comply. 

However, Campbell argues that the legislation may do more harm than good: 
“There has been a legalistic approach to the issue, which has had some big successes, but it has happened in a context of increased disempowerment of workers as a whole and of trade unions.  This trend is accelerating under the current UK government, which will make it harder to protect groups which will make it harder to protect vulnerable groups in the future.” 

November 9th held Equal Pay Day, which aims to tackles gender inequality faced by working women. Equal Pay Day challenges the fact that there is still a pay difference and why there are more men in high powered jobs than women. 

Britain’s gender pay gap will leave women working from free from November 9th until the end of the year, according to equality campaigners. 

Former Shadow Minister for Equality and Women, Gloria De Piero says that the problems not only lie within the wage gap, but within the workplace itself. 

Craig has been a maintenance worker for a large national company, and a Unite the Union convenor for 10 years. 

“We have recruited two apprentices every year for several years and from the applicants, there are only a handful of girls. Girls are not discouraged from the process, despite not having any role models in the field, nor are boys preferred. But it is implicit that a female worker would have to overcome obstacles that a male counterpart would not.” 

Unable to discuss further, due to Union obligations, we are unaware of what these ‘implicit’ obstacles may be for girls in this working sector. 

In 2015, it was reported that women get paid 22% less on apprenticeships than men. 
Piero continues, “It’s now been 47 years after the machinists walked out of Dagenham in a protest over the pay divide, which promoted the Equal Pay Act two years later. We can’t wait another 54 years for change. Women deserve equal treatment and equal pay.” 

But it can’t be denied that it does happen across a variety of professions. For example, Canadian company Vestra Inet requested only a female candidate in a recent job application, because the writing role includes receptionist duties.  

Many misconceptions still arise with the pay gap issue. But Obama assures that, “It’s not a myth; it’s math.”

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