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Mind The Gap: The Gender Pay Gap

Posted: 28 Jul 2017

Since the release of the BBC’s highest earning stars’ and staff salaries last week, we’ve all been listening to the news go on about the gender pay gap and why it’s so awful that women, in the 21st century, seem to be less valued than men in terms of salary reward. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 and the Equality Act of 2010, there remains an average 9.4% gender pay gap for full time workers in the UK.

Much of this disparity in pay emerges in early career; a study by the American Economic Review suggests that at the very beginning of a career, men and women are largely paid the same but as they enter into marriage and bear children a pay gap begins to emerge. This research also suggests that women tend to have a higher likelihood of taking a break from their career leading them to miss out on potential advancements in their career, often in tandem with this their household workload (e.g. cleaning, cooking, childcare) tends to be more intensive and so they are more likely to opt for a better work-life balance than a man.

The greatest pay gap is seen to be in jobs requiring graduate level education, but following a female’s childbearing years. This tends to be where both men and women are more highly paid but men disproportionately more than women due to the sacrifices women are more likely to make in terms of a work-life balance. Whilst this pay gap may not emerge from a direct link to having children women are more likely to follow their partners and give up career opportunities to follow their partner’s job around the country if required than their male counterparts.

Some argue that women shouldn’t be so disgruntled as, since 1997, in London, men’s wages have risen by 74.5% whereas the average wage of a woman rose by 81.7%. However, it remains true that women are relatively underpaid in comparison to men and according to a 2016 article from the BBC, with current salary progression, the gender pay gap in the UK will not close until 2069.

Whilst the fight against the gender pay gap has made huge strides towards pay equality, it is undeniable that the females of the UK are still hard done by in comparison to the male population and there are still ways that employers can combat this ongoing issue.

Read more about the gender pay gap here and here.

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