Women in Work - the Gender Pay Gap

In a society where 51% are women, why is it that we have only ever had 2 female Prime Ministers? Why is it that the CEOs of our biggest companies - Apple, Virgin, Amazon - are all men? When the BBC released the list of its top earners last year, why was it that the highest paid man earned almost 4 times more than the highest earning woman?

 

Women in the work place and the issues they face has quickly become an important issue in our society, and about time too. The gender pay gap favors men in all occupations in the UK, with women’s pay growing at a slower rate and reaching a plateau much sooner than that of men. In the last 5 years, the gap between men and women earning more than £100,000 a year has widened by 23% - this means that there are 4750,500 fewer women than men earning over £100,000 per annum. For a modern day society, we are certainly far behind when it comes to equality in the work place.

 

Why is this? It is true that women came into the work place later in history, due to patriarchal tradition, but this is no excuse for the old-fashioned attitudes that cast a shadow over the work ambitions of women. It seems that companies are less willing to employ women into the top positions due to a concern that women simply do not have what it takes. Apparently, women would be less formidable in a position of authority, therefore failing to achieve certain deals or agreements that a man would.

 

Or is it simply that women are less likely to be employed into high earning jobs or paid a higher salary due to the ‘risk’ they would have to take maternity leave? Women who choose to take maternity leave are more likely to become stagnant in their jobs, rather than moving up the ladder. Our society inadvertently encourages this, making it more financially viable to families for women to take maternity leave rather than men, as women are paid 90% of their earnings while on leave whereas men’s pay is capped. It is therefore more likely that women will take leave, potentially jeopardizing the chance to move forward in their careers. A recent study by the Independent found that in some companies, women make up less than 5% of the top-earning jobs, and nowhere is the pay gap more evident than in the BBC - Chris Evans, the highest earning man at £2 million per year, was miles in front of the highest earning woman, Claudia Winkleman, at around $450,000 per year. Even two co-presenters of the same radio program had a pay gap of nearly £1 million. It is, quite frankly, unacceptable.

 

Thankfully, change is afoot. As of January this year, the BBC announced certain cuts to male salaries, while certain women were to be given a pay rise. There is also evidence to suggest that the cavernous pay gaps seen in the current generation of 50+ will not be the same for millennials, with the gap closing across all employment sectors. The measures already taken to promote more equality in the work place are certainly a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Perhaps the biggest issue is not necessarily the amount of zeros on the pay slip, or the percentage on the paper, but simply the attitudes towards women in the workplace. If this is changed, and women are excepted as adept and proficient when it comes to work and business, the rest would be quick to follow.