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Mind the Gap - When it comes to issues of pay and gender, are we as forward thinking as we would like to believe?

21 May 2019

1963. The year of the iconic ‘Beehive’, ‘Beatles’ and box office success ‘The Great Escape’. Women earned 53p an hour, for every £1 that men made. The signing of the 1963 Equal Pay Act gave women hope for equal pay to men. And whilst a lot has changed since 1963, shockingly (but not surprisingly) disparity still exists between pay for men and women. And it just has to change.

The Gender Pay Gap affects women in various roles in the private and public sector. As it stands, the gender pay gap sits at just over 18% and the government admits that this is its lowest level ever. But these figures speak entirely for themselves… clearly women still remain unequal and second class to men in the workplace.

Granted, gender equality has improved dramatically in the last century; women can vote and have the right to full time work… and the resources to do so. But this work is underpaid and unlikely to lead to the same level of success and satisfaction as their male colleagues. The fight for gender equality isn’t just over the advocation of equal pay, it is ensuring that women don’t bare the brunt of societal expectations that confine them to motherhood and domesticity. This is an issue that we assume is resolved, but I think should still be questioned. 

The Equal Pay Act of 1970 aimed to tackle wage slip inequalities. But it seems that this has failed to completely close the gap between wages for men and women. Women still await equal pay to men in many industries. A cultural change that is yet to be galvanised. 

This idea of cultural change suggests that grievances surrounding gender equality in the workplace are not just centred around money. Despite numerous laws and legislations providing women with the same job opportunities as men, women are often common (and easy) targets for workplace discrimination. Millions of gender inequality cases in the workplace have been recorded not just in the UK, but around the world. So, quite simply… it’s not just the pay, it’s the prejudice. 

If we look a little closer, we’ll see the plethora of gender inequality scandals that plague the work place for women all over the world. Even forward thinking world-wide organisations and companies such as Facebook and Apple aren’t blameless. Both are reported to have been involved in such an insensitive ‘reform’ in which they hoped would “attract” more female employees to the workplace. 

It could be said that the pay gap is linked to child birth. It has been revealed that up to 30,000 women are sacked yearly when falling pregnant. And it comes to the forefront of my mind as to whether plans to have a family too, is at the forefront of the minds of employees when interviewing young women. The bottom line: women are penalised for their maternal rights and choices. And this needs a permanent solution… fast. 

We must ensure that UK workers are aware of the injustices between men and women in the work place. And yes, progress most certainly has been made. But the war is not yet won and a series of long awaited and further societal changes are necessary to accommodate the advocation of equal pay for every single UK woman.

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