The Gender Pay Gap Explained
75% of UK companies pay the men within their company more than their women. As of April 2018, UK companies with more than 250 employees were required to publish their gender pay gap data. You can find all the data on the government database.
With gender equality being a major talking point across the UK, and with fake headlines causing confusion, I’m going to clear up some of the misunderstanding surrounding the gender pay gap.
Gender Pay Gap V’s Equal Pay
Before we go any further, it’s important to clear up the difference between the gender pay gap and equal pay. The gender pay gap isn’t the same as equal pay. Equal pay is when men and women are doing the same job and should therefore be getting paid the same wage.
Under the Equality Act 2010 (originally the Equal Pay Act 1970), it is a legal requirement to pay people equally for the same work regardless of their gender. This applies to all employers, companies and sectors. Therefore, it is illegal to pay men and women a different rate of pay for the same job.
This means that a company can be fulfilling its legal requirement of paying men and women equally for the same roles but may still have a gender pay gap problem.
What is the Gender Pay Gap?
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women within the workforce. According to the Office for National Statistics, men earned 18.4% more than women across the UK (in 2017).
The gap between men and women’s earnings for both full and part-time work has fallen from 27.5% in 1997 to 18.4% in 2017. If you only look at full-time workers, the pay gap drops to 9.1%. But for part-time workers the pay gap favours women, who now earn 5.1% more than men.
Why is there a Gender Pay Gap?
There isn’t one simple answer to the gender pay gap. But there are a number of factors believed to be contributing to difference in men’s and women’s earnings. Here are some examples of potential contributing factors:
Caring responsibilities are viewed to be one of the many reasons for the pay gap. Stereotypically women care for young children or elderly relatives much more than men. This means women are more likely to work in part-time roles, which are often lower paid or have fewer opportunities for progression.
Another important factor is the divided labour market. Women are still more likely to work in lower-paid and lower-skilled jobs. Women currently make up 62% of those earning less than the living wage (the Living Wage Foundation).
Discrimination is another cause of the gender pay gap. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) has previously found that one in nine new mothers were either dismissed, made redundant or treated so poorly that they felt the need to leave their jobs. This can create a gap in experience, leading to lower wages when women return to work. Men also tend to take up the majority of the most senior (and well paid) roles at a company.
What can be Done to Reduce the Gap?
Requiring companies to publish their gender pay gap may be the start of a move towards greater salary transparency. Because talking about our rate of pay isn’t very British, most workers are unlikely to be aware that their colleagues are earning more than them.
Improving the access and flexibility of childcare would enable more women an equal opportunity when it comes to going back to work, working more hours and applying for promotions.
With childcare being one of the main reasons that women’s pay progression lags behind men’s, paternity leave may also help the cause. We need firms to make paternity leave economically viable and culturally acceptable.
Fewer than 10% of recruitment adverts make any reference to flexible working. When recruiters fail to mention the flexibility that they can (and should) provide, they put off highly skilled women who just happen to have taken a break from work and are looking for flexible hours.
Gender Pay Gap FAQ’s
But men are more qualified that women right? That isn’t the case. Women are graduating from university/college, achieving higher grades, and enrolling in postgrad education much more so than men. A study from Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that “women have to have a Ph.D. to make as much as men with a B.A.”
If men work harder don’t they deserve to earn more? When women work harder/stay later/help more they benefit less than men who do the same. According to one study, men who stayed late to help the company were rated 14% more favourably than women who did the same thing.
Why don’t women just ask for pay rise? With stats suggesting that managers are less likely to want to work with a women who negotiates her wages at an interview, it would seem that women potentially put their employment at risk when asking for a rise.
If you’d like to improve your income there are tons of side hustles and work-from-home opportunities on this website. Let me know below if you have any other questions regarding the gender pay gap and I’ll add it to the FAQ’s section!