One of the most significant examples of gender inequality worldwide, and in the U.K. workforce, is the gender pay gap. You think that in this modern day, such issues would be behind us. However, the gender pay gap is still very much in play and has a big effect on women all over the country.
While many people know roughly what the pay gap is, many people don’t understand the combination of complicated reasons that allow women to go underpaid continually. Additionally, because discussing your salary with other colleagues isn’t common and sometimes discouraged, it can be hard to know if you are being underpaid because of your sex or gender. This makes the issue of the gender pay gap quite a tricky one.
On this page, you can find information and statistics which break down the gender pay gap, explaining what it means for women, and why it happens. On a much more practical level, you can also find helpful advice related to disclosing pay, and what to do if you think you are underpaid because you are a woman.
At Aspiring to Include, we believe that all forms of inequality are not merely the responsibility of the person who is being mistreated. As such, we encourage everybody to read and engage with this page and take active steps to address pay inequality.
What is the Gender Pay Gap?
Let’s start off by defining exactly what we mean by the gender pay gap.
The gender pay gap measures the difference in pay between men and women and reports the gap between them. As of April 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap stands at 7.4% for full-time employees and 15.5% among all employees. There are more women than men working in part-time roles which is why we see the skew in the statistic, which includes part-time workers. These statistics mean that women earn 7.4% less than men on average for no other reason than their gender.
Even this statistic in itself, that there are more women working in part-time roles, gives us insight into inequality in the labour market. Far more women than men are in charge of childcare and housekeeping responsibilities, which means they have to take part-time roles to manage these dual responsibilities. Men, on the other hand, still dominate the full-time role market as they are less expected to take on such a large role in day-to-day childcare. This is just one of the ways in which the gender pay gap is more complicated than a simple comparison of two figures.
Overall, the gender pay gap statistics can be hard to visualise and comprehend. A more straightforward analogy of the gender pay gap understands how much a woman earns for every £1 a man makes. In 2019 the pay gap stood at 17.3% which means that women earned 83p for every pound a man did. That works out to about £30 less a month for hourly-rate jobs. For salaries, this formula expects for every £30,000 a man makes, a woman would make around £26,100.
It is essential to understand that the pay gap is calculated as the average hourly earnings between men and women, and is measured across all jobs in the U.K. It is not merely a measure of men and women who do the same job. However, it is a big indicator of how inequality is still active and rife in the country. Despite all the advancements we have made in terms of gender equality, the issue of equal pay is still very much a problem.
Where Does It Come From?
The gender pay gap indicates the inequality and discrimination that occurs in the workplace. Throughout a working lifetime, women will earn considerably less than a man. As well as this at times being down to straight discrimination, there are some other more complicated reasons.
As we discussed above, women bear most of the childcare responsibility, which can stop them from progressing into higher-paid positions, as they will need to take more time off or even take a break in their careers. These care responsibilities also mean that women are more likely to take on a part-time position, which is less likely to have scope for career progression, and are typically lower paid.
Another reason for the gender pay gap is because of the divide in the labour market. Women occupy 80% of low-paid care and leisure roles and only occupy 10% of higher-paid trade roles.
There has also been a growing discussion regarding how we classify a job’s skill and how this may have been affected by gender stereotypes. We assume that some roles are ‘less-skilled’ and, therefore, deserve less pay, simply because they are typically women’s work. For example, clerical jobs, care work, cleaning work and childcare.
There are some important potential solutions to these problems, namely flexible work and tackling unconscious bias. Flexible work opportunities can allow women to work in higher-paid jobs without taking on part-time work. Flexible hours can help women to manage childcare responsibilities while not taking a career hit. Additionally, tackling unconscious bias can help men step up into childcare roles and take some of this pressure away from women. Dealing with bias and prejudice can also help to turn the tide on such unhelpful opinions discussed above. The more we deal with stereotypes, the better things become for women.
What to Do If You Think You are Being Underpaid
It is against the law to pay a woman less than a man for working in the same role or at the same skill level. If you feel like you are being underpaid, you can discuss your salary with your colleagues. The 2010 Equality Act declared it illegal to stop colleagues from discussing pay when resolving equal pay issues, so you cannot face any victimisation or punishment for these conversations. You can speak to HR for support, or make a case against your employer if you think there is good cause. You can also ask your union for support regarding equal pay.
Remember it is key to speak up and speak out. The more we know about these issues, the more we change things in the right direction. Never let an employer get away with paying people equally.
For more information on important issues regarding women and employment from us, visit our guides to pregnancy and maternity discrimination and women’s rights at work.
Where to Find Inclusive Opportunities
At Aspiring to Include, we can help women find opportunities where they will be paid and treated fairly. We believe in equal pay and so we believe in endorsing companies that think the same.
You can check out our directory of company profiles to find someone equal and diversity-positive to work with. You can also take a peek at our live inclusive job board to see what opportunities are available in your area right now.
You should only work somewhere that deserves you.
If you are looking for employment, take a look at our management jobs for women, jobs for women in tech, or our travelling jobs for women.