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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Wed 20-Aug-14 12:45:06

Guest post: 'The gender pay gap is still widening - we must act'

Statistics published this week reveal that many women earn three-quarters of what their male colleagues do - for the same job. Grazia magazine have launched a petition calling for an end to the gender pay gap. Here, Editor Jane Bruton argues that demanding transparency from businesses is essential.

Jane Bruton

Editor of Grazia

Posted on: Wed 20-Aug-14 12:45:06


Lead photo

'We want companies to publish their pay gap'

This week we learnt that female managers earn, on average, only three quarters as much as men – for doing exactly the same job.

The shocking statistics from the Chartered Management Institute show just outrageous the current situation is. Women in management roles will have to retire at 79 to earn the same in their lifetime as equivalent male colleagues.

Too many people think: ‘this is just a hangover from the days when we couldn't get our own credit cards, or even vote – it'll sort itself out over time’. But it won't. In a society that is increasingly embracing feminism, the pay gap isn't getting better – it's getting worse. New figures from the Office of National Statistics show that unless things change, the gender divide will last at least another 60 years. We can't wait that long.

And – obviously – it's about motherhood. The data shows that women begin to really fall behind at the age when they are most likely to be starting a family. It gets steadily worse from then on.

In a society that is increasingly embracing feminism, the pay gap isn't getting better – it's getting worse. New figures from the ONS show that unless things change, the gender divide will last at least another 60 years. We can't wait that long.

Mark Crail, of pay specialists XpertHR, which helped with the study, said: "It appears that employers often give up on women in mid-career, and are missing out on a huge pool of untapped knowledge, experience and talent." Clearly, too many employers just can't comprehend how a person can be a parent and a conscientious, ambitious worker – unless, of course, they're a man. How silly of us to believe that in 2014, we'd be judged on our performance at work rather than our gender.

Here's another depressing statistic: from the 4th November each year, women are essentially working for free. So, are you entirely happy with your earnings? Is it okay with you that women take home an average £1million less than their male counterparts over their working lives? No? Didn't think so.

We're not too happy about it either – and we have just three weeks left to do something about it. We have launched our Mind the Pay Gap campaign to try and get 100,000 signatures on our petition by September 10. If we do, the Government has to take action on this issue. But we need your help to do that.

Not a day goes by when I'm not asked to sign some petition or other. I know what it's like to feel petition fatigue. ‘Oh they’ll get loads of people signing this - they don't need me’, I always think. But we really do.

Our petition calls for transparency about the gender pay divide. We're calling for Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 – existing legislation brought in by the last Labour government – to be enacted. If it is, then businesses with 250 employees or more would have to publish (completely anonymously) details about the hourly pay of the men and women they employ, exposing any unfair gender gaps.

Please help us make a difference. If we work together on this, we can change things for ourselves, for our daughters and for women like us in the future.

If you'd like to sign the petition, you can find it here.

By Jane Bruton

Twitter: @janeGRAZIA

AskBasil Mon 08-Sep-14 21:41:01

more evidence that it's sexism, not women's choices, which are key

Greengrow Mon 08-Sep-14 17:36:31

We certainly need to act.
I constantly encourage women to know their worth. I think I am one of the best at my expert area (an area in law) of anyone in the UK. I have never had any trouble asking for and getting high pay and now I own , rather than work for anyone.

You have to push and push for pay rises.

I also recommend not being always off whether sick or on a lot of long gaps with maternity leaves, part time periods and the like. Obviously if you have 1 year of experience iof surgery you will not be as good a surgeon as 5 years. This is not rocket science. The key is leaving dull jobs like housecleaning and 24/7 childcare to other people. Going back to work quickly and full time makes a massive difference to the personal happiness of women and their children and their long term prospects.

Too many women think they are useless or don't negotiate high pay and don't take risks and don't move jobs and countries. If 30 years ago my children's father could follow my work hundreds of miles and move what is so different now that so many women choose to play second fiddle to men. Do not accept the poisoned chalice however tempting of part time work or long leaves - it tempts you but will actually kill you as a person and an earner and as long as more women than men take up those rights it is a noose round their necks. Steer clear of it like you might do the apple in the garden of Eden. Your child will not remember if you changed 12 nappies a day or 2 but they will be grateful when you earn enough to pay their university fees for them and are proud of your career. Feminism is the source of much happiness and success for women.

AskBasil Sat 30-Aug-14 18:50:13

Someone posted this article on my facebook today and it's so interesting and relevant to this thread - it discusses transgender people's experience of different responses to them at work depending on whether they were known as male or female.

AskBasil Fri 29-Aug-14 08:24:20

Teaching used to be a very well-paid and respected profession.

When most teachers were men.

Nowadays most teachers are women. But at the higher levels - headteachers - the tiny number of men in the profession are disproportionately represented.

The usual crap about well women go part time and take maternity leave etc. gets trotted out, but actually, the discrepancy is too large to glibly explain it away by that catch-all "women's choices". Many men in the profession don't enter it straight after university, so theoretically they've missed the same amount of professional work time as women. Affects them not a jot, because no-one's looking for an excuse not to promote them.

EBearhug Thu 28-Aug-14 20:49:23

Yes - when I was working in libraries (academic and public), there were lots of men at the top of the tree - quite out of proportion compared with the overall numbers.

CaptChaos Thu 28-Aug-14 16:55:20

It did seem (anecdotally) that any male nurses were likely to be promoted quickly. Certainly more quickly than their female counterparts, so yes, it doesn't seem odd that professors of nursing were disproportionately male, indeed, this was the case when I was training too. back in the dim and distant

I didn't get the impression from my peers that this was because women didn't want to be promoted, even if we did console ourselves by saying that we wanted more patient contact anyway....

PetulaGordino Thu 28-Aug-14 16:06:56

i used to meet a lot of professors of nursing as part of my previous job

they were disproportionately (compared to nursing as a whole) men

CaptChaos Thu 28-Aug-14 00:00:18

To put it bluntly and simply NutcrackerFairy if they were well paid, men would be doing them.

Women used to dominate in IT in the early days, when it just looked like coding was like being a glorified secretary. As soon as it started making big bucks, men took it over.

Pay nurses/teachers/careworkers/shop workers well, and I can almost guarantee it that those industries will become male dominated.

OutsSelf Mon 25-Aug-14 23:06:46

Everything that Basil said.

AskBasil Mon 25-Aug-14 20:53:37

Also why aren't we acknowledging that as soon as women do start going into a profession in large numbers, the wage goes down?

That's not to do with overall numbers, it's to do with the value we assign to women and their work versus that we assign to men and their work

NutcrackerFairy Mon 25-Aug-14 20:24:43

Why don't we ask why are female dominated professions notoriously badly paid [i.e carework, nursing] as well as why are they female dominated in the first place?

It just strikes me that, yes, it is vital to encourage more young girls to study for and enter male dominated professions such as finance and engineering... but why is it that female dominated professions are considered the bottom of the pay barrel anyway?

Blondieminx Mon 25-Aug-14 16:39:27

AskBasil great post

AskBasil Mon 25-Aug-14 08:34:44

When women ask for more, they are seen as uppity, bitchy, grasping career women who are getting above their station, while men are ambitious go-getters.

When men take time out of the career path, to start up businesses, be an actor, go travelling, look after children etc., they catch up with their peers - they are not permanently disadvantaged by having taken time out of the paid workplace the way women are.

As someone else said, men are more likely to be mentored, given big projects which increase their knowledge and experience and therefore suitability for the next career step, while women are less likely to be given those projects and if they are, they are less likely to be properly mentored and guided in them, so they don't perform as well when they do them, thus leaving them perceived as less competent and less able than their male peers who were properly mentored and groomed for leadership every step of the way.

Women who don't have children and don't take time out of the workplace and work full time for the whole of their careers, are still paid less than people with penises.

The reason there is still a pay gap is sexism. All the other stuff is just excuses and denial.

PetulaGordino Mon 25-Aug-14 07:26:27

Susannah I agree it's not that simple. Especially when you have a group that has generally been socialised to expect and demand more, and another group that has been socialised to expect and demand less (or perhaps to be grateful for what they're given). It's all very well telling women who are currently or about to go into the workforce to ask for more etc, but it needs to start earlier, in childhood and in the way that the two sexes are treated, and for that attitude that a man being assertive = a woman being aggressive to be broken down

susannahmoodie Sun 24-Aug-14 17:56:51

I'm a teacher. Teaching in theory had a very transparent pay scale, any one can google it and the criteria for moving up it are pretty transparent too. So you might wonder how a gender pay gap would exist. But but does.

Two colleagues of mine started at the same time so we're due to log through threshold at the same time. Female colleague mentioned it to male colleague as in 'oh it's our turn to apply for threshold this year' he replied 'oh I already went through a couple I years ago'. Turns out he jut asked the head, made his case hat he was worthwhile and the head agreed.

Similarly, a new member of staff had a tlr payment at his old school but was relocating here to a role with no extra responsibilities, school agrees to match his salary. Because he asked.

I know people will say 'well women should ask then' but I'm not sure it's that simple, as women are perceived as grasping, above their station etc.

EBearhug Sat 23-Aug-14 00:07:31

My male colleagues do quite often leave early because of childcare, and deal with sick children, but I think that's partly because we are in jobs which can be flexible about start and finish times, and we can work from home. Also, our manager does quite a lot of the school runs, so it's acceptable for others to be seen to be actively parenting, too.

I have no idea if there's a pay gap - I don't think there is, after fighting for a payrise a few years ago, and the comments I got then, and I did have a couple of years where I got 6 monthly raises above the official cap. (We usually get annual raises, and it's usually capped at say 2%, even if you've performed excellently.) I was at the point of considering putting in an equal pay questionnaire back then.

But I don't actually have any idea currently. My manager usually says at payrise time that he tried to get me a higher rise, but he doesn't have the final say... But I don't know if he means because I'm not equal, or because my performance deserved it, and for all I know, he might say the same to all my colleagues, too.

Also, it's not just base pay - if you're with an employer who pays bonuses as a percentage of salary, then that also has a cumulative effect, because 2% of £30000 is not going to be as much as 2% of £40000, and over the years, it will add up, especially if payrises are also done as percentages.

OutsSelf Fri 22-Aug-14 23:30:02

I think men could really help out in this by participating in unpaid work as much as women do. Until men shoulder their responsibilities as parents and home makers, and rearrange their working lives the way that women do to accommodate this, there will be a de facto inequity in the labour market as men will simply be more.flexible, more available and more consistently avoidable.

The pay gap in my current department between me and male colleagues arises because I took maternity leave and have a part time contract in order to be with my young family. Men in my department with similar family situations barely blinked when their children were born and are never off when their children are ill. I am the main income earner in my family yet manage to participate in this way for my children. I would not be disadvantaged by this if men routinely made similar arrangements.

Would be very interested in Grazia' s particular interest in this, they do not strike me as feminist in the ways mentioned by PPs. Agree with points made above about why transparency might not be the key to this issue

EBearhug Fri 22-Aug-14 20:50:21

It's the weekend - I can sleep. And actually it's been quite a good week workwise, even if it has been a bit manic.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 21-Aug-14 22:55:53

EBear - sorry you're tired. I so agree about mentoring issues.

gamescompendium Thu 21-Aug-14 22:35:32

The stats are wrong in the article. If women are earning 75% of male earnings (why isn't this portrayed as men earning 133% of female earnings?) then why are we only working for free from 4 November, surely it would be working for free from the end of September? confused

EBearhug Thu 21-Aug-14 22:27:51

Can't find the report(s) just now, and too tired to search properly, but there was some research from Catalyst that showed that women are less likely to be considered for high profile projects than men, and then they don't get the experience that comes with it, so they don't get considered for the next one, and their performance doesn't seem as good, so they don't get as many bonuses and performance-related payrises - over one year, this might not be such a big deal, but the cumulative effects over a career do add up, even if you don't have a career break for children.

There are also differences in how women's behaviour is seen (as someone mentioned upthread) - examples included men working long hours works in their favour, but not so much for women (I am so tired because I've been doing some long days...) There are also some differences in how effective mentors and sponsors are with men and women, partly because people tend to mentor and sponsor people like themselves.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 21-Aug-14 17:23:32

whoever put together and allowed the infographic to be released should be fired.

Shenanagins Thu 21-Aug-14 16:27:25

My original point was in relation to the petition for greater transparency in pay as this always seems to be the focus of such discussions and I'm saying it shouldn't be.

We should be focusing on other points like why women typically don't go for the senior roles, negotiate higher pay and that takes us on to the real crux.

Why are the "caring" professions female dominated? Why does the bulk of childcare typically fall onto women?

We need to start questioning these norms and our own inner belief systems in order to generate real change in this area.

There is no easy answer in all of this, it is easy to blame men, dodgy companies, women but none of those is strictly correct.

Yes, women do have a part of the problem but not the only part and that is the much wider issue.

Blondieminx Thu 21-Aug-14 14:48:09

I am nodding along with you Buffy LRD & Darkesteyes

Someone has to do the caring. If you get a well paid job and pause / go part time while there are young kids / elderly parents to look after IME it is hard to recover from, financially. Bosses see you as firmly on the "mummy track" "not committed" "inflexible". But I know that is a privileged position, and we should be focussing on the women stuck in dead end retail work for minimum wage, on zero hours contracts not knowing if she'll be able to get her kids school shoes next week or whether she'll have to suffer the indignity of the food banks again... sad

The gap in opportunity is key; far more so than a simple comparison of basic salaries.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 21-Aug-14 14:08:32

YY, the idea that if you negotiate you do better is quite class-bound. There are plenty of contexts where anyone - male or female - who tried it on would be seen as a troublemaker, or just odd.

It's also an issue that what's considered acceptable negotiating is gendered, even in jobs where negotiating is widely accepted. This piece makes some of these points, though the studies were carried out in the US:

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