“Nine out of ten women in this country work in companies or organisations that pay them less on average than their male counterparts.” – Stella Creasy
Although it seems impossible in 2020 that women are having to fight for equal pay, this is just what thousands of women are still doing each year. Last year alone 30,000 equal pay claims were made at tribunal. These are battles that shouldn’t need to be fought and are made more difficult by the prevalence of opaque pay structures and cultures of secrecy, denying women access to the information they need to challenge employers.
To remedy this The Fawcett Society is leading a campaign for pay transparency and is calling for a change in the law to give women the right to know what their male colleagues earn if they suspect there is pay discrimination.
But there is also something else going on. Regardless of skill level, occupations dominated by women simply don’t attract the same level of status, prestige, or pay as male dominated professions. In which case, it should perhaps come as no surprise that women account for 62 percent of workers struggling to make ends meet on less than the living wage.
Indeed, for decades, with few opportunities available to them, women were corralled into what were often viewed as low skilled, menial, jobs. Despite this often not being the case, the perception that women are less capable and less skilled, and therefore the jobs women do are of less value, seems to have stuck.
You don’t have to look far for evidence of this. Nursing, predominantly carried out by women, attracts far lower rates of pay than male dominated industries such as engineering, despite comparable levels of education, training, and technical skill.
Of course, women can and do move into higher paying occupations and, over the last thirty years or so, women have managed to successfully step into what were previously male dominated fields, but even where skills are matched like for like, evidence shows that women are still missing out.
Research by the World Economic Forum has found that as women enter these work areas – an effect known as ‘workforce feminisation’ – pay declines. While yet another paper published by Emily Murphy and Daniel Oesch describes how when women take over a male dominated field and sectors move ‘from an entirely male to an entirely female occupation in the UK [this] entails a loss in individual earnings of 12 percent’.
These results effectively fire a cannon ball through the arguments that women earn less solely as a result of poor occupational choice or because they continue to be pushed into lower paying roles. Instead, it demonstrates that roles pay less because women take them, and that this can only be the result of discrimination, stereotyping, and implicit bias.
It is essential then, that there are changes in business practices, including pay transparency and regular pay assessments of earnings by gender.
On the 20th October, the Equal Pay Implementation and Claims Bill was introduced in Parliament by Stella Creasy which seeks the ‘Right to Know’ to prevent discrimination.
The bill has been given leave to proceed – please sign the petition now to support it: https://www.change.org/…/prime-minister-stop-pay…
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