Today at 3:34pm, many offices across the country will see women leaving their desks and heading home for the day. They’ll be leaving work 18% earlier than usual to reflect the astonishing 18% pay gap for full and part-time women combined.
The gender pay gap refers to the difference between women’s and men’s average earnings and despite the Equal Pay Act of 1970, women are still earning less than men in Britain.
From Thursday 10th November 2016, women will effectively be working for free until the 31st December 2016, solely due to the scale of the gender pay gap. The average pay for full-time female employees is still 9.4% lower than male employees – only a 0.5% improvement on last year. However, what’s even more staggering, is how the UK ranks compared to other countries. In 2006, the UK ranked 9th for gender equality according to the World Economic Forum, but in 2016 we currently stand at 20th place.
Important public figures such as Sadiq Khan and Theresa May have spoken out about the need to close the gender pay gap, but it’s clear we’re still a long way off. Statistics from Deloitte suggest that the gender pay gap will not be closed until 2069; their calculations indicate the difference will close at a rate of 2.5 pence a year. This means that equal pay will be achieved nearly a century after the Equal Pay Act was enacted and almost 53 years from now.
However, 2017 will mark a crucial turning point for gender equality. From April, employers with more than 250 staff will have to publish their gender pay gap. The hope is that this legislation will put pressure on businesses to tackle the problem by placing employers under public scrutiny.
So why in 2016 does the gender pay gap exist? There are many theories surrounding the reasons behind it, some of these include:
Discrimination (both directly and indirectly)
Despite it being illegal, some women are still paid less than men for the same work. Often men and women will have the same job title but will be receiving different pay.
Recent research has also shown that problems lie around the topic of maternity, with around 54,000 women being forced to leave their job early every year as a result of poor treatment after they have a baby.
Every single industry demonstrates a pay gap favouring men.
Additionally, some of the highest gender pay gaps are found in “female-dominated” industries such as healthcare and social services, as well as finance and insurance services. Gender pay gaps are significantly higher in the private sector – where organisations determine pay for themselves and it’s not regulated across the industry.
Findings released this week by Open University reveal that over half of British women regret their career choices and wish they had chosen a “male-dominated” industry. The research demonstrated that 49% of women wished they had opted for a job involving technology, science, engineering or maths.
Within society, women continue to play a greater role caring for children and elderly relatives. As a result of this, more women are forced to work part-time with jobs paying less and holding fewer progression opportunities.
Women are not as assertive as men in the workplace
Studies have shown that women don’t negotiate for higher salaries as men do. Some experts suggest that this could be down to the fact that women are frequently penalised for aggressive negotiating. So if women ask for a pay rise they’re often criticised for being too forceful – but if they don’t ask for one they may not receive one.
If you think you are getting paid less than a male counterpart at work it’s important to chat to your boss or your Human Resources department about it.
This year Equal Pay Day falls on Thursday 10th November and there are many ways you can show your support:
– Open up a discussion with your employer about the Equal Pay Act, and talk to them about the new legislation coming in April.
– Show your support on social media with the #Equalpayday
– If you’re an employer, let your female work staff leave at 3:34pm
– If you leave your office early, turn on your out of office on email, to explain why you aren’t in the office and to inform people about Equal Pay Day 2016.