Did you know? November the 10th is Equal Pay Day. It was a new one on me too. I am not surprised, I mean every day marks something these days so really supporting equal pay seems like a pretty justified, if not necessary day to my mind.
Do you know what we are actually marking though, the fact that still in 2017 women in the UK earn an average of 18.1% less than men for doing the same job, and they say having a penis doesn’t give you super powers. Perhaps I am being hard as it is up a whole 1.2% from 2015*, I mean how you can you not be impressed at such a glacial rate of change?
Ironically I find myself in one of the best yet poorly paid jobs going being a SAHM, if actual cash is what you are after. One of the many reasons I am a stay-at-home-mum is because, you guessed it, Mr Tammy’s job paid better than mine and if one of us were to fall on our employment sword there was no question it would be me. I highly suspect I am not alone in this.
During my time at work I worked in a relatively gender balanced environment. Well at entry level. The further up the ladder you look the more on sided it became. Both of my bosses, who were partners in the firm were in fact male. Their bosses were male and the three equity partners, i.e. the people who put the most money into the firm and therefore owned the controlling shares were, of course, male. One thing that did change upon my departure was the appointment of a female managing partner who essentially become Commander in Chief. She was also a damn good employment lawyer, brilliant business woman and I hate to say it, at risk of being burnt at the steak, childless. Don’t judge me just yet for I will elaborate. For the sake of clarity being childless does not make you anymore qualified for the job in hand.
You see, I have been thinking about why there remains this gender pay gap. Surely it cannot just be because we have the boobs? Perhaps long standing social inequality that evidently takes several lifetimes to beat down plays it part. However, I suspect the fact we are gifted the ability to bear child must also be at work here.
A lot women take a years maternity leave, reduce hours around childcare, work part time, flexi time or even stop working at all for a few years. All the while our male counterparts remain in full time employment. Continue to impress, chip away at the corporate ladder, obtain pay rises and promotions. If women do return to full time employment after a gap or chance in hours then it can take years to make up their wage packet for that time out they dared to have. It is not wrong that those who don’t have this time out are rewarded and it is not wrong that those who reduce their hours reduce their pay. What doesn’t feel right however is the choice that seems to remain, mostly for woman. You have children, you will pay a financial price, approximately 18% in fact.
Of course it is not just women who dared to start a family who are on the receiving end of gender pay inequality. Sadly, it would seem, just having a female anatomy can in itself be enough, we all saw the pay statistics that came out of the BBC earlier this right? Certain workforces remain male dominated, engineering, mathematics, scientists. Equalising pay and the workforce in general has a long way to go.
It is often said, ‘it starts at home’ and well, yes it does and it can.
That is why days like today are important.
May my girl and boy grow up knowing their worth. Knowing they both deserve the best and that the best applies to both of them, equally. May my boy never think he is entitled to more than his sister because he was born with boy bits. Equally may my girl never feel she is entitled to more or that she deserves any less than her brother.
If they grow up with this attitude there is hope they can take it to the work place with them and that this can help to outdate some of the current attitudes resulting in males being paid an average of 18.1% more than females for the same role. There is hope of creating an actual equal society.
So whilst days like today might seem like a fad, and as though there ‘is a day for everything these days’ truth be told they remain a ‘thing’ because we still have a long way to go in making society a truly equal place for men and women. As it stands men and women seemingly aren’t equal, in fact women are worth 18.1% less, apparently.