The gender pay gap has widened for the first time in 20 years because of
inflation-busting pay rises awarded to the country’s top earning men.
Income Data Services (IDS) figures show the gap in pay between men and women
widened by 0.3 per cent in 2002, breaking the trend of the last two decades
where it has narrowed by 0.5 per cent a year.
Had it not been for large executive pay rises the pay gap would have
actually shrunk because women’s average hourly earnings grew at a faster rate
than men’s in 95 per cent of the workforce.
Julie Mellor, chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the
figures should act as a wake-up call for employers that they still need to do
more to end unfair pay.
"It is essential that employers review their pay systems to ensure they
are not short- changing women. We as a society also need to reassess the value
we place on jobs traditionally done by women," she said.
A spokesman for IDS said its analysis of more than 250 jobs shows the key
factor behind the pay gap was the different types of occupation performed by
men and women. It highlighted the concentration of women in retail, cleaning,
clerical and caring roles, compared to the high proportion of men in
management, sales, production and maintenance jobs.
Last year figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the pay gap
had grown, with women typically earning just 81.2 per cent of male salaries.