The Equal Pay Day campaign, today highlighted that women are effectively working for free from now until the end of the year due to the gender pay gap. While the disparity in earnings has historically widened as women get older, it seems that after year in decline, the pay gap for women in their 20s is growing. The gender pay gap is now five times greater than it was six years ago and is its widest in London.
The gap now stands at 14.1% according to the Office for National Statistics, with no movement on the figure in the last three years. At the current rate it would take 100 years to close the male-female pay gap.
However, the government has set a deadline for businesses with more than 250 staff to report their gender pay gap. This should hopefully pick up on companies that discriminate and single them out on their bad habits.
Growing up with my mum – a single parent – has made me acutely aware of the struggles of living on a low wage with little support. Not only did she suffer from a low wage, she has never had the opportunity for a well-paid job. Being solely responsible for three children has let my mum with few choices and little opportunity for career progression. She required a job that allowed her the flexibility to work only in school times so that she could look after my sisters and me.
Unfortunately this seems to me to be a factor that limits many women from succeeding as much as they could. Much more should be done to create a level playing field as well as equal pay. However, this doesn’t seem to be happening – at least not enough or quick enough.
Do we really have 100 years to wait for equality?
The answer should definitely be ‘no’ from everyone. But until everyone is fully on board closing the gender pay gap - it will not happen. The government must find ways of enforcing equality within the work place.