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.

Mothers Betrayed?

I have to confess to being more than a little disappointed at the views expressed by Nichola Pease  in the press recently suggesting that women were ‘wrecking their careers’ by taking their full 12 months maternity leave.  Ms Pease , who a mother of three is deputy chairman of JO Hambro was giving evidence to a treasury select committee investigating sexism in the City.  “Legislation  is turning into a nightmare – I think we have got too long maternity leave – a year is too long!”  She also felt that the practice in Norway, where businesses are required by law to give 40% of their board positions to women, are flawed.

What really disappoints me is the implied view that the legislation we have in place is there in some way to pander to the fact that women have children.  What about the business case for harnessing and retaining the skills that so many women have in the workplace?  And what about the hard evidence?  US research has shown that Fortune 500 companies with the highest proportion of female directors are more profitable and efficient than those with the lowest. And according to research by McKinsey, the strategy consultancy, European organisations with the highest proportion of women in influential leadership roles, showed better than average financial performance.

Perhaps Ms Pease ought to take a look! 

Bookmark and Share

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.

Sexism in the City

 

With a growing number of sex discrimination cases in the City, the Treasury Select Committee is launching an investigation into gender inequality in the financial services sector.

According to the Telegraph, John McFall, chairman of the committee, said: “At a time when pay and corporate governance are key issues in terms of redrawing financial regulation, the committee feels it is important to highlight the issue of gender equality in the financial services industry. We hope our inquiry will provoke an important debate about the representation and treatment of women in the City.”

Banks and financial institutions are being asked for information and evidence on three areas: pay inequalities, flexible working practices and sexism. Banking is a sector that, like technology, is very male dominated, and many commentators have questioned whether the credit crunch would have happened if there had been more influential women in the institutions. It is very encouraging to see that this action is being taken and hopefully the findings will lead to some positive developments being made.

“We’re all in this together” say women in technology

There are many changes that need to take place to make women a more powerful force in the IT industry, but this is something that needs support from all sides including men, women, the government and the business world. That was the message from W-Tech, the first dedicated recruitment showcase for women in IT held by womenintechnology.co.uk and the BCS, whose panel of successful females in technology said “we’re all in this together”.

In what was an information packed day, many issues were touched upon. High profile female technologists agreed that the UK needs pay audits, that IT education needs to change to make it more appealing to young girls, that maternity and paternity provisions need to become more equal and that women in IT should seek good mentors to help them in their careers.

“So many interesting things were discussed at W-Tech and so many points were raised” says Maggie Berry, Director of womenintechnology.co.uk and an organiser of W-Tech. “It was a great day packed full of positive messages which I hope the women that attended will take away and be able to put to good use in their careers. We’ve received some really positive feedback and already have ideas on how to make W-Tech bigger and better next year. Thanks to all that attended for making it such a success!”

W-Tech was held at the IET in London on 24th June. Around 1200 women who wanted to get on, or get into, the IT industry registered for the event which held a series of career development workshops, a CV clinic, recruitment fair and networking session. womenintechnology.co.uk and the BCS organised the event to address the lack of women in IT and the issues that those in the industry face, from the gender pay gap to the ‘motherhood penalty’. More information can be found at http://www.wtech-event.co.uk/.