Pay and recognition

Not only is today Internation Women’s Day, it’s also the fifth birthday of womenintechnology.co.uk, so we asked the women in our network what their ‘birthday wish’ for women in IT would be. The top answers were: a closing of the gender pay gap, more respect and more support in the workplace from both employers and fellow employees.

One respondent said “[I wish] that people would assume [women in IT] have interesting, innovative and strategic thinking without them having to work so hard to constantly establish credibility”. Another said she wished that women would “support each other rather than compete”.

The needs of working mums were also addressed with calls for women to be openly recognised as doing a great job even if in part-time work, as well as for more workplace benefits options surrounding things like childcare. Other wishes were for more role models for women in IT, more women in senior IT positions and for women to trust their own skills and abilities more.

As one respondent pointed out, it has been 40 years since the Equal Pay Act and although we’ve made progress we still haven’t closed the gender pay gap, so that’s definitely a big hope for the future. These results show that we still have a way to go until women are on a par with men in the IT world but what’s great is that these ‘wishes’ are realistic ones that are within our reach. Since womenintechnology was established five years ago women have made great advances in the sector. We’re looking forward to the next five years and what will happen next!

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Daily Mail strikes again

The Daily Mail strikes again. And the title says it all: “Can love survive when a woman earns MORE than a man?” You can find the piece here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1249768/Can-love-survive-woman-earns-MORE-man.html

It starts by saying: “It’s a seismic social shift: nearly half of women are paid as much as or more than their man”. ‘Hooray!’ we think – finally all the fighting for equal rights is perhaps beginning to pay off. However according to the Daily Mail, “it could all end in tears” and “the truth is that we don’t know whether to feel triumphant or dismayed”. That’s certainly news to me!

Here are some other gems of information:

“Many [women] are working simply because their families need their income, and increasing numbers are finding themselves accidental breadwinners because men’s jobs have been hit far harder than women’s in the economic downturn – a phenomenon dubbed the ‘mancession’.”

“If the past 40 years have been all about women entering the workforce and boosting the economy, the next 40 will be spent dealing with the social, personal and family consequences. And that may be the hardest part of all.”

With the struggle of breaking the glass ceiling that women still face, it’s disappointing that articles like this are still written. All it does it turn women’s success into a negative, when it’s an achievement we should be celebrating. What’s more the article states that only 19% of women earn more than their partners with another 25% earning the same – that means that around half of the women in the UK still don’t earn as much as their partner.

As the article states, “social attitudes are still trailing far behind”. But they won’t improve when we’re still reading pieces like this.

The gender pay gap

You may have seen this post on Computer Weekly’s WITsend blog, but in case you missed it, here it is:

Every year we say “a new year, a new start!” And in this case: “a new decade, a new start”. Let’s hope that’s the case when it comes to the dreaded gender pay gap. But results from a survey by silicon.com indicate that instead of the situation improving, the difference between the pay of men and women in IT is getting bigger.

Just take a look at this graph – the results are quite striking:

Far more women than men are in low paid jobs with the majority (35%) earning less than £25,000 a year, compared to just 14% of men. And interestingly whereas the number of women in this pay bracket has risen since 2008, the number of men has decreased. When it comes to salaries in excess of £40,000 the number of men far exceed the number of women – with the amount of men earning top bucks outnumbering women by more than 2:1.

When it came to bonuses, although more women than men took home extra cash in 2009, men received higher amounts. 65% of women who received bonuses got less than £5000 compared to 47% of men and 10% of the males had bonuses of over £20,001, whereas the number of women receiving that reward was: zero.

It always comes back to the same question: why? The main answer seems to be that many women put their career progression on hold due to family commitments, leaving the top jobs open for the men. The huge difference between maternity and paternity leave allowances doesn’t help this situation either (although that looks like it may change). But it’s not just the women that are missing out here – businesses need the input of women, especially at senior level.

Remote working, schemes to help women back into work after maternity leave, mentoring – these are all practices businesses should be looking at so that we can change the look of the graph above and have more women at the top of IT. As I said before, it’s a new decade – let’s hope it signals a new start!

The gender pay gap – again!

And so another story on the gender pay gap. The good news? The gender pay gap has narrowed over the past year and is apparently at an all time low. The bad news? It has only dropped by 1%. Let’s look at the main stats that the ONS has published:

  • Hourly wage rates have increased for full time female workers by 4% to £13.43
  • Hourly wage rates for full time male workers have increased by only 2.8% but are still higher at £16.07
  • Gender pay gap is in favour of women working part time who earn an average of £156 a week as opposed to £144 for men
  • Pay gap is now 16.4%
  • Public sector pay increased by 3% compared to 1% in private sector

Despite the fact that I know there is definitely a gender pay gap, I am always a little skeptical about the accuracy when looking at these figures – because I wonder if they compare like for like. For example – do they compare salaries of a male computer programmer with their female equivalent? Or do they compare a CEO with a receptionist?

However when reading this article I noticed the point that was raised by Harriet Harman, who is quoted as saying “Most women work part-time because they juggle the important work of looking after children and older relatives. That’s where the discrimination really bites.” The article then states: “The TUC calculates that there is a part-time gender pay gap of 35.2%, based on comparing the hourly earnings of men working full-time (£16.07) with women working part-time (£10.40).”

I thought this was really insightful . Yes a lot of women are getting paid less because they work less hours and yes the gender pay gap here is positive. But there is an inherent problem with this setup –the fact is that the corporate world makes it difficult for many women with family responsibilities to return to work, leading them to part time roles which pay them substantially less than they’d get if they returned to work full time. Once again it links back to the same issues: maternity and paternity leave and more support in the workplace. But as Harriet Harman says herself, the Equality Bill will help women progress even further. Let’s hope she’s right.

Equal Pay Day

A date for your diaries – 30th October is equal pay day, as I found from the new blog by the Fawcett Society. It’s not just a day to highlight the gender pay gap, it’s the day when effectively women in the UK get their last pay cheque of the year. And no, unfortunately we aren’t getting two months off to start Christmas early. It’s because the gender pay gap of over 17% is equivalent to men being paid for the whole year, and women only getting paid up until the end of October. Shocking statistic isn’t it?

If you want to get involved, go to the Equal Pay Day blog equalpayday@wordpress.com and see what you can do.

Time to leave the City?

There have been some pretty disappointing statistics in the press over the past week when it comes to equality and the gender pay gap – especially in the finance sector. A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that women with full time roles in the City earn 55% less than their male counterparts – that’s almost double the 28% gender pay gap for the UK in general. Not only that, when it came to bonuses, the report found that men within finance received five times the performance related pay of women, taking home over £14,000 compared to under £3000 for females.

It is obviously unacceptable to have such discrepancies based on gender. But should we be surprised? It’s general knowledge that there is a gender pay gap, especially in the competitive arena that is the City. The important issue is how we deal with it. A piece in the Telegraph by Tracy Corrigan suggests that women should “give the City a miss”. She says “the disparity of earnings and the working conditions that make it so hard to combine motherhood and career advancement will continue to persuade many to take their skills elsewhere…Rather than trying to fix the City, or struggling to meet its harrowing demands, perhaps it is better to pursue other options.”

She has some valid points – a high flying career in the City is not easy, especially with family responsibilities. But is giving up really the best option? Yes it’s a difficult career, but surely women should have the option of pursuing it without facing huge levels of discrimination, if they want to? And if we tell women to give up, isn’t that effectively showing the City that the current situation is acceptable? This situation isn’t easy to change but if we keep persevering we will hopefully be able to make a difference, slowly but surely.