Women being paid less than men for the same work sounds like the start of a Margaret Atwood novel. You know before it all gets worse and before we know it we’re living in a dystopian society. Well..
The truth is there’s still a huge pay gap across genders in pretty much most industries. In today’s post I’m going to shock you with some statistics, discuss the reasons why this still exists, and most importantly - share some steps we can take to make sure this is something better suited to the pages of books.
Good luck Graduates
With the cost of living crisis showing no signs of slowing here in the UK, students and university graduates are facing a harder job search than ever before. The most recent Graduate Outcomes survey shows us how many industries have a pay gap between genders, on average. Warning, it’s not light reading with only a few being able to declare equal pay for career starters. But this isn’t something that fizzles out as we grow in our careers. On the other end of the spectrum, let’s talk about C-suite. In the most recent report by the Trades Union Congress (2021) of 98 companies surveyed - a tiny nine had a female CEO (and this is up from seven in 2020!).
As devil's advocate, let’s talk about a traditionally female-led sector. Marketing, Public Relations (PR) and communications is one of those industries. Dominated by women you’ll often find marketing and PR teams where women are indeed the majority. However (get ready for some shocking stats) men are still twice as likely to become a director in the marketing sector and four times as likely to become a CEO. In 2022 the Office for National Statistics told us the average gender pay gap was around 8.3%, but the 2022 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey tells us female marketers are earning 12.6% less than men. And believe it or not, this is down from 28% in 2021! And it’s not just communications, this is happening across endless industries.
But Why Does It Still Exist?
Okay, shocking stats over - why is this still happening in 2023? There’s many reasons that can be blamed for the gender pay gap. But research tells us the most common are that:
● women are often the ones to take part time roles/time off to care for loved ones or act as primary parent
● women are less likely to ask for a pay rise or even apply for roles when they don’t meet every criteria (thanks decades of social pressures)
● glass ceilings (the social barrier preventing women from being promoted to top jobs in management) are rampant in very traditional careers
● sticky floors are another social barrier where companies can (and do) assume that women are less competent or qualified and are offered a lower salary
While the gender pay gap is something we’re thankfully beginning to see companies take seriously, there are a few things that can help speed along the process. Since the pandemic we’ve seen the rise of flexible working which is a welcome necessity for those that have other commitments like parenthood and care. Transparent pay bands are also on the rise, and can help women and equal pay allies stand up for disparity in the workplace. But ultimately we need to see a change in social conversations, breaking down the stigma and educating those who think equal rights is the norm.
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Cover art courtesy of @Ebrulillustrates on Instagram
Lucy Gordon (She/Her)
Hello! I'm Lucy, an intersectional feminist passionate about community activism. Working as a senior writer in the public sector for the last four years. I'm delighted to be part of the Our Streets Now team, joining a collection of passionate and truly inspirational people working to create a fairer society for all.