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The Gender Pay Gap Is Not Changing

As any follower of fashion knows, there are seasons, trends and the most talked about looks.  Over the past four weeks, the gender pay gap is having its fashion moment with more than a usual number of publications, articles and interviews.  There is so much great content that I felt it was worth doing a compilation of the best.

First, from The Guardian a review of how the UK compared to other members of the EU in the 2017 Gender Equity Report.  And the answer was, not very good. The UK joins Slovakia and the Czech Republic among the EU’s 28 member states in having made no significant advances in reducing levels of inequality when taking into account a range of fields including the workplace, income, education, health or political engagement.  No material progress has been achieved over the last ten years.  The top-scoring country in the EU is Sweden (82.6), followed by Denmark. Greece holds the lowest score (50). The full article can be found HERE

Next, via the BBC, a great video that discusses what Iceland is doing to close the gender pay gap, including the introduction of a mandatory skills calculator which works like this: -

1.  Every job is analysed for attributes like education, physical requirements, mental stress, level of responsibility, etc.  This creates a score (the value of the job to the company)

2.  If two positions/roles have the same score – the roles need to be paid the same.

3.  And legally companies have to pay people in those roles with the same score the same amount – or they face a fine.

Iceland is already the country with the best “score” in respect to gender pay gap, and this will close the gap even more.  And as the video points out – it is not always women who are underpaid, the pilot of the skills calculator also found roles where men were not paid equitably.

Another Guardian story took a trip back to 1968 when the women at Ford Motor in Dagenham England went on strike for equal pay and won.  But only after shutting down the factory for almost a month.   A reminder that while in some ways things are better in many ways they have not changed for over 50 years.

And pay inequality not just at lower ends of the pay scale. For those that don’t follow Sydney morning TV a bit of background.  Channel 9’s breakfast show Today had Lisa Wilkinson as one of the co-presenters with Karl Stefanovic.  While neither of these individuals is poorly paid, Lisa was recently given a $700k pay increase to get her to a rumoured $1.1m to Karl’s $2.0m.  The network argued that its new offer gave pay parity to Wilkinson and Stefanovic for their Today duties and the extra salary for Stefanovic was compensation for his other roles as a presenter on 60 Minutes and host of This Time Next Year. That's an admission from Channel Nine that it's been paying Wilkinson less until this point, and she had been co-host of Today for ten years.  Ms Wilkinson got the best at the end of the day; she has resigned and is now at Channel 10.  The Sydney Morning Herald article discusses the pay inequality within media including the BBC and ABC and how transparency of what individuals are paid could help achieve a more equitable outcome.

Finally, the most thought-provoking article I found was from the Economist.  The article focused on one of the biggest reasons for the gender pay gap, and that is that women still are in lower paying jobs and lower paying professions.  Just a fifth of senior executives in G7 countries is female.  Ironically the gender gap would shrink if men moved into roles that today are primarily female-dominated, such as nursing, child care and primary school teaching.  A study of 12 European countries showed that between 1995 and 2010 the share of women workers in most occupations changed little.  The pattern was the same for Australia.  If the type of work women (and men) do does not change then the gender pay gap will not be closed.  Women do not lack ambition, desire and intelligence to do senior executive positions.  The Economist argues that at the time of around the first critical promotion is also the time when many couples are contemplating their first child.  Studies show this is the starting point for women to fall behind men in respect to pay.  Women are still the primary caregivers and the ones that will scale back their work levels (hours of work, international travel and other less child-friendly requirements) versus men.  An excellent well-researched article.

The closing of the gender pay gap is not happening and while the needle has moved research is showing at the current course and speed it will be 60 years or more before equity is achieved.  Hardly an acceptable answer.

Mary Sue Rogers

Picture Credit – Economist October 2017


Posted On : 20-10-17

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