If you’re an employed woman, every month you will receive a paycheck that is slightly different – and lighter – than the ones of your male colleagues. That’s because your salary slip comes with an 18% tax, one that you unfortunately have to pay for being a woman in a still very male-oriented society. Disturbing, right?
There’s no running away from it: According to the latest findings, women in the UK are paid 18% less than their male colleagues for doing the same work. Also, the higher you climb up the career ladder and the higher your professional rank, the larger the gap. The Telegraph recently reported that the average full-time equivalent salary for a male manager now stands at £38,817 – £8,964 more than that for the average woman in a management role. Almost £9,000 a year! That is an enormous difference for the same type and amount of work.
Tackling the root of the problem
Describing the gender pay gap as infuriating and deeply unfair is an understatement. However, it’s impossible to find a way to close it without first trying to understand how such a worrisome phenomenon came about.
The Equal Pay Act was launched in 1976, which prohibits for men and women doing the same work to be paid differently. Forty years later, the gap has narrowed down, but not nearly enough. In general, a considerate number of working women miss out on great career opportunities because they tend to gravitate towards less time- and energy-consuming jobs that will allow them to focus on raising children and caring for the family. The gap becomes even wider when women have children, as they are missing out on pay rises and promotions (either during maternity leave or simply because of the employer’s assumption they’re going on leave soon).
Robert Joyce, associate director at IFS explains to The Guardian: “Women do not see an immediate cut in hourly pay when they reduce their hours (after birth). Rather, women who work 20 hours or less per week lose out on subsequent pay rises, meaning that the hourly wages of colleagues in full-time work pull further and further ahead.” Unsurprisingly, raising a family is also considered the main culprit for why male managers are 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted, a trend which is only further widening the gap.
Getting the wheels in motion
So, what is being done about it on a legislative level? In November 2015, the UK announced its determination to finally close the gender pay gap. The key to making this happen is to legally bind large companies on how much they pay their male vs. female staff. These regulations are due to come into effect in April 2017.
That’s just one part of the puzzle, though: structural changes need to ensue before any palpable change becomes reality. Women need to be able to lead a career and raise a family, without having to choose between one or the other; on the same note, women are to be encouraged to seek more high-career options. The workplace needs to go through a revolution of sorts, too: by modernising it and coming up with a range of flexible working options, like quality part-time jobs, as well as making shared and/or paternity leave a more feasible option, women will have a much greater shot of achieving real career progress.
What can you do about the gender pay gap?
Surely, a governmental intervention and an overall shift in our collective mindset is absolutely essential to close the infamous gap. Nonetheless, waiting for that trickle-down change that could or could not happen during the span of your career will not get you far. For starters, you can learn various strategies and techniques to stand up for your rights in the workplace and better negotiate for equal pay and/or more flexible working conditions. If you feel like you’re being discriminated against and paid less solely based on your gender, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Here is where you can find and hire the top-tier lawyers for your needs. Fill in this short form and ask us for a free quote; we’ll soon match you with some of the finest professionals in the country to defend your best interests.