New research shows that for formally educated women the gender pay gap has not closed. Why has this happened, and what can be done about it?
The IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) has released new research highlighting the continuing inequalities in pay between men and women.
Over the past two decades the overall pay gap between men and women has decreased:
Currently women earn 18% less than there male counterparts; in 1993 it was 28% and in 2003 it was 23%.
While the pay gap is closing, and it is better to see improvement than for it to widen, for women to still be earning almost one fifth less than men, means there is still a very clear problem in pay equality.
The outstanding figure that came from the IFS focused on the gender pay gap and its relation to education.
Among graduates, or those with an A-level standard of education, the gender wage gap has not changed in 20 years.
Two decades without any progress is shocking.
To understand the gender pay gap we must take into account a wide range of causes. On this issue, Kathryn Nawrockyi, equality director for Business in the Community, says: “The gender pay gap is caused by a complex range of cultural and structural issues.” These include:
1. under-representation of women in high-paid senior roles
2. pregnancy and maternity discrimination
3. differences in promotion between men and women – and often a lack of choice about whether they progress at all.
Working out ways to try to close this pay gap needs to take place on an institutional level, rather than leaving the responsibility solely to female employees.
Nawrockyi continues: “It is frustrating that the conversation is all too often turned back to ‘fixing the women’ – that ‘women just need to ask for more money’ or ‘women need to be more confident or competitive’. In order to address this employers must be take responsibility to bring about fundamental organisational change where structures and culture ensure equality. Simply fixing isolated areas within an inherently biased framework means that, sadly, the pay gap will continue to exist.”
To make positive change after 20 years of no improvement, we must actively begin to engage with this issue.
Nawrockyi, on a final note, says: “Our research shows that employees want to discuss the gender pay gap openly with their employers and we would strongly encourage greater transparency between employees and organisations on this issue.”
Interested in gender pay equality: