The Great Gender Divide

3 mins

Posted on 16 Nov 2015

Imagine coming into work and being told you have to work for free until the end of the year…..not an appealing thought is it! However, this is effectively what women in the workplace are doing until the end of 2015, according to one campaign group, the Fawcett Society.

Equal Pay Day

Every year “Equal Pay Day” marks the day when the average woman in effect stops being paid compared with the average man. This means that men earn 14.2% more per hour than women. 

This year Equal Pay Day fell on 10 November, five days later than in 2014; an indication that the gender pay gap is slowly narrowing. The Fawcett Society has calculated that if the gap continues to reduce at the current rate, it will be another 50 years before men and women are receiving equal pay.

The headlines are undoubtedly hard hitting, but what are the underlying reasons behind the gender pay gap?

Unconscious Bias

We recently reported that unconscious name bias is common during recruitment. One study submitted identical applications for laboratory manager jobs. Half the applications had female-sounding names, the other half male-sounding names. Participants considered the “male” applicants to be more competent and hireable, and they were also offered a higher starting salary. This demonstrates that name bias continues throughout the entire recruitment process, having an effect on salaries.

Gender roles

The pay gap can, in part, be attributed to the fact that the majority of part-time and low-paid workers are women. Some women may choose to work in certain jobs and sectors so that they can fit their working life around their family life. This perhaps indicates that the gender gap figures reflect wider sociological reasons and do not only reflect on discriminatory practices of companies. 

On the other hand however, figures show that among part-time workers, women are still more likely to be paid less than men. The same figures also show that mothers are less likely to be offered jobs in the first place, and when they do, they are less likely to be paid as much as their male colleagues. 

Unfortunately, the divide goes even deeper than this. Working fathers see an average 6% increase in their salaries when they have children, whereas women who have children see a decrease of 4% in their salaries per child. 

The Government took the first steps towards achieving equality between parents by the introduction of Shared Parental Leave, however this is will not address the gender pay gap.

Pay Gap Reporting Requirements

The Government has stated that regulations will be created to ensure all private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees publish details of their gender pay gap. If they do not do so, they may face a criminal prosecution and a fine for non-compliance. Employers will be required to publish detailed information such as the difference between average basic pay, total average earnings and bonuses.

The future

It is clear that the gender pay gap needs to be addressed. The equal pay regulations may have a similar effect to the National Minimum Wage “name and shame” scheme. Those employers who have a large gender pay gap are inevitably going to be criticised and viewed in a different light to those who don’t.

To discuss how this may affect you or your business, please get in touch.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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