The gender pay gap is a fiercely debated subject which is often, unfortunately, met with the same repetitive, false rebuttals. To the point where it often seems defeatist to even broach the subject with many people because you know the myths are just waiting to seep out.
So let’s address them once and for all with help from Sophie Walker of the Women’s Equality Party. Writing in the Telegraph last week, Walker has deftly addressed the 6 most common myths about the gender pay gap, and why they’re wrong.
Unequal pay and the gender pay gap are the same thing
They just simply aren’t. Paying men and women a different wage for doing the same job is against the law, whereas having an average gap in pay between men and women isn’t. Conflating the two is a technique used by some to draw attention away from what is actually a criminal act. The BBC, according to Walker, were guilty of this last week when they turned allegations of unequal pay by Carrie Gracie, to one about its in-house pay gap.
The pay gap is not indicative of discrimination
Many companies dismiss the pay gap as an indication of the fact that women tend to choose to be in lower paid or part-time positions, whereas men will tend towards more senior, better paid roles.
However, if a company is consistently employing women in junior roles and men in senior roles, this could be an indication of discrimination within the company’s own culture. This can then have a knock-on effect onto other issues too, such as the company’s parental leave policies.
The pay gap isn’t that bad
Perhaps the most common reply to conversations about the pay gap is that it just isn’t as bad as ‘feminists’ are making it out to be. The numbers are small, and therefore insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Last year it was widely reported that the pay gap was 9.1%, but this was the statistic for those in full-time employment. The national average gap in pay between men and women in both full and part time work was 18.4%. Given the fact that women are more likely to work in part time jobs, the picture begins to become a bit clearer. And given the fact that in London in 2016 men earned £70 billion more than women, it becomes even clearer still.
Women choose to be in more junior roles
Frankly this is a tricky one. The statistics do show that women will tend towards more junior roles, especially within the caring and services sectors. Though the question remains: is this because they want to, or because they’re conditioned to?
Recently, retailer Phase Eight’s pay gap report was revealed in the first wave of figures to be made public. Shockingly, for a company that sells women’s clothes, their company-wide pay gap is at 64.8%. This was explained away as being a consequence of their in-store employees being women, and the head office team being men. However, this begs a further question: why aren’t there more women working in the head office?
Women choose to have children and that’s why there’s a gender pay gap
There’s no denying the fact that the pay gap widens when women reach the average age of childbirth in the UK. And there’s no denying that this affects their earnings, with many new mothers forced to take part time jobs on in order to alleviate the costs of childcare in the UK – the highest in the world.
In fact, as I reported on recently, our inflexible work culture is costing mothers £1.3 trillion a year in lost earnings due to the fact that millions of highly skilled young mothers are forced to take jobs far beneath their level of qualification.
Women don’t ask for pay rises, unlike men!
When the BBC’s figures were released last year, many men took to the stage to explain that women simply didn’t ask for pay rises, or weren’t assertive enough when it came to salary negotiations. Which is all well and good until you consider that studies have found that when women do attempt to negotiate, it can have a negative impact on their chances of being hired at all.
In fact, taking Carrie Gracie as an example again, we can see that even when a woman straight up asks for the same pay as her male colleague, and is told that she will get it – she doesn’t.
Need I say any more?
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