Teaching girls science will close gender pay gap

Helping working mothers and encouraging more girls to study science and maths so they can take up careers with higher paid jobs will do more to close the gender pay gap than making equal pay audits compulsory, according to the CBI.

Responding to the trade and industry select committee’s report on occupational segregation, the employers group said equal pay audits have a role to play. But it said they are not a ‘magic bullet’ and could well divert attention away from more effective ways of closing the pay gap.

The committee has shied away from mandatory equal pay audits, saying “they are probably of more use as a way of marking out those companies that employ best practice from others, which may concentrate the minds of less forward-looking companies”.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland, said: “The causes of the pay gap are much more complex than just unfair discrimination. We need to give more choices to women who are trying to balance work with family responsibilities, for example through better childcare or more flexible working.

“We also need to improve careers advice to encourage more women into higher paying jobs.”

The CBI recommends:

  • Encouraging girls to study subjects such as science and maths so they can follow careers in well-paid sectors requiring such qualifications
  • Ensuring work experience offered to girls is more business-focused and encouraging them to consider apprentice programmes in areas such as engineering
  • Promoting life-long learning among women who return to the labour market after time out
  • Developing mentoring and networking schemes further
  • Helping female entrepreneurs in setting up their own businesses – and raising the profile of these success stories
  • Encouraging innovative ways of recruiting in sectors with few women such as rethinking the way jobs are advertised to women .

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