Tuesday 2 November is Equal Pay Day, a day of action lead by the Fawcett Society to draw attention to the fact that on average women’s full time mean hourly pay is 16.4% less than men’s.
This year the Equal Pay Day comes as the Equal Pay Act marks its 40th anniversary. Jane Butcher, assistant director of the UKRC, the Government’s lead organisation promoting gender equality in science, engineering and technology (SET), comments:
“In science, engineering and technology the UKRC is pleased to report that in some areas the pay gap is lower than average. Men and women in higher level professionals enjoy broadly similar levels of pay.
“This must serve as a beacon, attracting more women into these fields, and encouraging more employers to adopt gender equality strategies. Encouraging women to progress in valued and better rewarded areas of the labour market is key to addressing some of the persistent imbalances and inequalities in pay and opportunity between women and men.
“However, it remains the case that women are significant in their absence from these sectors – they form only 12.3% of the skilled workforce in SET and just 1% of the SET skilled trade workforce. In addition, women in lower level SET professions and are paid on average 13.4% less than men doing the same job – and this gap increased between 2008 and 2009 by 0.8 percentage points.
“We should therefore not get complacent. The gender pay gap in SET occupations shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon demonstrated by the fact that between 2003 and 2009 the full time gender pay gap narrowed by less than 1 percentage point inset professions and associate professions, and in a period of economic hardship we may see marked fluctuations in pay and employment. There remains a greater disparity in some SET roles and greater transparency in reporting would assist to resolve this.
“We need to attract more women into these sectors while sustaining and improving on the relative pay equality. There must be greater recruitment, retention and promotion of women in SET, not just on the grounds of fairness, but because research increasingly shows that gender equality is good for business, for innovation and for workforce satisfaction and retention.”