The gender pay gap continues to dominate as a major news story for 2016 – here’s my latest round up of the global stories, issues and challenges.
I joked about it on April Fool’s Day, but apparently, it can be done – bravo to the University of Essex, who said they were “impatient for change” and have thus given their female academics a pay rise to bring their average salaries level with the men. Facebook also maintain that they’ve closed their gap, although this BBC piece suggests (rightly) that it’s only half of the issue.
However, it transpires that academia in general suffers a huge gender pay gap; a new (US) study shows female PhDs in the science and engineering fields make 31% less than their male peers one year after graduation, according to a new study in the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings. When controlling for the fact that women tend to earn degrees in fields that pay less than those in which more men earn degrees, the observed gap dropped to 11 percent. And the gap disappeared when controlling for whether the women were married and had children.
“From today, the National Living Wage will give around 900,000 women and half a million men an immediate pay rise in their hourly earnings. By 2020 this translates to 1.9 million women and 1 million men directly seeing a rise in their pay. The gender pay gap at the 10th percentile of the earnings distribution – including those working part-time – is expected to fall from 5.6% currently to zero by the end of the decade. Over the next five years women earning the National Living Wage will see their pay rise by over a quarter and growing more than 1.5 times faster than the salary of an average worker.”
[Source: UK government website]
What emerged from four USA news items?
- A new study found that women hold less than a third of “middle skill” jobs—which include roles like welders, mechanics, and IT support staff. Researchers say that if just 10% of the women with similar, but lower-paid gigs moved into these fields, it could double median female earnings;
- Top US women footballers filed a complaint for equal pay;
- And Fortune shared five things every woman needs to know before she renegotiates her salary. A new Glassdoor survey blew up the myth that men – unlike women- are great at asking for higher salaries, finding that more than half of all employees settle for their employer’s first offer. However, those women who do try to negotiate tend to be less successful, according to the survey, which found that 15% of men are able to talk their way into a higher paycheck, vs 4% of women;
- The gender wage gap is especially pronounced among highly educated men and women in white-collar jobs, an analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows. Women without a high-school diploma were paid 79% as much as male peers in 2014, whereas women with a bachelor’s degree or higher were paid 76% as much as male peers. This may be in part because white-collar jobs such as CEOs, doctors, and engineers reward working long hours and job hopping, two behaviours that can be tricky for working parents (ie, mothers). And as gap watchers already know, wage transparency, pay studies, and other one-off remedies won’t do much to fix the problem. What might? Cheaper childcare, more flexible workplaces, and increased parental leave (along with dads who are willing to take it).
I love a story which suggests that corporate diversity programmes can make a difference – and this report from the Harvard Business Review finds that women perceived as “high-potential” receive a pay premium, making even more than their male counterparts. There’s a catch, of course: that pay boost is far more likely to kick in if they work for a company with overarching diversity goals.
It’s not just about the UK and the USA, though. A new survey shows that while India has a gender pay gap, it narrows when men and women are working at the same level. Men in India earn an average of nearly 19% more than women, but just 3.5% more if they work at the same level at the same firm.
Yet another new study looks at how becoming a mother affects the gender pay gap in different countries. Interestingly, having a child in Ireland puts a big dent in working mothers’ salaries, while it barely registers for mums in Italy, Spain and Belgium. This Irish op-ed piece really reflects the writer’s frustration with the current set up, doesn’t it?
It’s been interesting to watch actresses emerge as public advocates for pay equality and equal opportunities at work. True, their massive pay cheques make it difficult to feel too outraged on their behalf. Yet their celebrity may make their actions useful to working women with less clout. House of Cards star Robin Wright recently explained how she got the show’s producers to pay her as much as co-star Kevin Spacey.
“You better pay me or I’m going to go public,” Wright recalls saying. “And they did.”
The last time I wrote about the gender pay gap impacting pocket money, my Facebook page was alive with comments saying it wasn’t so – but this latest survey suggests that, broadly speaking, there is still a pocket money gap of 13%! What I still can’t wrap my head around is why – can parents please comment and shed some light?
Finally, at the other end of the age spectrum, both the TUC and the New York Times report on the extent to which the gender pay gap is impacting retirement; in the UK, women have barely half the pensions of men and the same is true in the USA – women are in far worse shape than their male counterparts when it comes to retirement. Because women make less over our lifetimes and thus have lower pensions, we are 80% more likely than men to be in poverty at age 65 and older.