We Still Have a Long Way to Go to Bridge the Gender Pay Gap; Two Reports on the Enduring Gender Pay Gap Have Made for Dispiriting Reading over the Past Week. Natasha Davies, of Gender Equality Charity Chwarae Teg, Argues It's Now High Time for a Radical Rethink on Employment Flexibility

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

We Still Have a Long Way to Go to Bridge the Gender Pay Gap; Two Reports on the Enduring Gender Pay Gap Have Made for Dispiriting Reading over the Past Week. Natasha Davies, of Gender Equality Charity Chwarae Teg, Argues It's Now High Time for a Radical Rethink on Employment Flexibility


THE UK has made much progress over the past three decades when it comes to improving equality in the workplace. Women today are better paid, better represented and enjoy more rights and better working conditions than their predecessors of the 1980s.

But last week two reports published on the same day provided more evidence of what we at Chwarae Teg have been saying - that we still have a long way to go.

The first, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), reveals the gender pay gap widens after women become mothers. It reveals that over the following 12 years, women's hourly pay rate falls behind men's by more than 30%.

The IFS says this is partly because many women return to work parttime and miss out on promotion.

The second report, by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and XpertHR, says men are 40% more likely to have been promoted to a management role in the past year, and there has been no progress on closing the stubborn 23% gender pay gap.

The findings of both reports are sobering, but not surprising. Part of the problem is that many people wrongly assume we have solved these kinds of issues; after all, men and women are paid the same, aren't they? This sort of thinking highlights a common misconception that equal pay and the gender pay gap are the same issue.

Yes, men and women legally have to be paid the same amount for doing the same job, but the problem is that, by and large, they aren't doing the same jobs.

The gender pay gap is about men and women dominating in different sectors and different roles, and the fundamental issue underpinning the gap is that the sectors and roles in which women dominate are underpaid compared to those in which men dominate.

There are still huge structural differences in the workplace. For example, 98% of engineers are men. While people might have guessed that men would make up the majority of this workforce, very few would suspect it was such a high percentage. There are similar figures in other sectors, such as construction and the trades.

Conversely, if you look at sectors such as retail, catering and care, where jobs are paid a lot less, women dominate the workforce.

There are cultural issues at play too, linked to persisting stereotypes and expectations of what roles men and women should fulfil, both in the workplace and at home.

This goes some way to explaining the findings of the IFS report. If we want to achieve sustainable change and parity of pay between men and women, we need to focus on tackling the root causes of the pay gap such as these.

We need to seriously challenge the idea that a woman's career is in any way compromised once she starts a family. …

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We Still Have a Long Way to Go to Bridge the Gender Pay Gap; Two Reports on the Enduring Gender Pay Gap Have Made for Dispiriting Reading over the Past Week. Natasha Davies, of Gender Equality Charity Chwarae Teg, Argues It's Now High Time for a Radical Rethink on Employment Flexibility
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