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Gender pay gap average still at 18%

It has been over four decades since the Equal Pay Act, but Women still earn an average of 18% less than men according to new research.

The pay gap has made headlines for years and continues to do so as wage differentials between men and women remain substantial.

In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May said: “If you are a woman you will earn less than a man.” Highlighting it among many of our countries injustices, she pledged to close the pay gap and end the disparity between the genders.

However, new research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that there is still a gulf of 18% between the pay of males and females and one which gets wider after women have children.

According to research funded by the Joseph Rountree Foundation, the pay gap widens consistently for 12 years after a woman has her first child, resulting in women receiving 33% less per hour than men.

The report does show the encouraging news that the pay gap is down from 23% in 2003 and 28% in 1993, however, its research also highlights that there has been little improvement in the wages of female graduates and those with A levels, where the pay gap has stagnated at the same level for the past two decades.

Robert Joyce, associate director at IFS and an author of the report stated that “The gap between the hourly pay of higher-educated men and women has not closed at all in the last 20 years.”

“The reduction in the overall gender wage gap has been the result of more women becoming highly educated, and a decline in the wage gap among the lowest-educated.”

IFS links the widening pay gap after childbirth to working less, however, women do not see a cut in pay immediately after they reduce their hours. Instead, it is the women who work part time, less than 20 hours a week who lose out on pay rises and their full-time colleagues hourly wage rises.

“Women in jobs involving fewer hours of work have particularly low hourly wages, and this is because of poor pay progression, not because they take an immediate pay cut when switching away from full-time work. Understanding that lack of progression is going to be crucial to making progress in reducing the gender wage gap” said Joyce.

After former Prime Minister, David Cameron, vowed to close the gender pay gap in a generation, new transparency policies for companies with over 250 employees will come into play next March, forcing large employers to publish their pay gaps. The UK government has also introduced shared parental leave and increased free childcare.

In response to the recent IFS findings, a government spokeswoman stated: “We want to make our country a place where there is no limit on anyone’s ambition or what they can achieve – that means making sure everyone, regardless of their gender, can succeed at work.”

“The gender pay gap is the lowest on record but we know we need to make more progress and faster. That’s why we are pushing ahead with plans to force businesses to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap.”

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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