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The excuses supporting the gender pay gap are outdated and too generalised

Author: Aimi Walker

It is a well distributed fact that qualified women are paid less than men in workplaces worldwide, regardless of their sector or industry.

If a man and a woman attended the same university, studied the same degree and left university with the same grade at the same time, there would still be at least a 10% difference between their take-home earnings once they had acquired a professional career. Even more unfortunately, this percentage is on a lower end of the scale, with the average difference actually being around 23%. This translates as men being paid £11,564 more than women in similar roles every year. Despite gender inequality being a known issue, little has been done by the government and individual businesses to address, and thus change, the problem. 

In an ideal and logical world, pay and status at work would be decided upon experience or ability; however unchangeable factors such as age, race and gender are considered and reviewed instead. Some employers believe that women are not suitable for top hierarchical positions because they fear that lifestyle commitments, such as motherhood and family, will distract women from their work or women may leave their career entirely to focus on these aspects

The alarming truth is many educated and intelligent women have experienced difficulty returning to senior levels at work after giving birth, leaving them with no motivation or opportunity to unlock their full potential. It leaves them with an uncompromising decision to choose between their biological instincts of starting a family or striving for success in a job which may never acknowledge or reward them for their brilliance. The implication of this is fewer females are in leadership roles, and if this becomes standard, the situation can only get worse and women’s education and talent will be wasted on low paid part-time jobs.

Only 30% of women annually earn above £24,000, compared to 44.4% of men. What is even more shocking is that the remaining percentage of women earn below £23,999 compared to the remaining percentage of men . If companies are voluntarily and shamelessly publishing this pay information in their annual reports, then why are they allowing the gap to spread wider? 

A study published in the American Sociological Review offers the explanation that men are more likely to work overtime than women because they are not responsible for housework or childcare. If men can commit to positions which demand longer hours, then not only will this equate to their bosses that they are working harder, but they will be viewed as more ambitious than women, and more likely to be promoted faster. Quantity does not necessarily produce quality so working longer hours shouldn’t equal a promotion. What is created through that work in those crucial hours is more important. One would think this concept is understood by educated people in higher positions. A diversity of genders in leadership is healthy and can produce amazing results for business because it allows for a collaboration of varying perspectives. 

What needs to be readdressed and remembered is that not every woman in modern society shares the same view toward the forever forked path of career or family. It doesn’t have to be divided split. Women are not doomed to endure either the demanding pressure of a professional status or the isolated existence of a mother who gives her entire life for her child. The boundaries permitting women to merge these two worlds shouldn’t be present, and they are only this way because of social conformity. Only culture tells women they are not equal to men

If women received the same pay as men and had the chance to work in senior level jobs part-time, perhaps they would feel more appreciated and motivated to handle both roles. Fortunately, despite the inequality we still face today, many brave women dig deep to discover their dedication to business and achieve these higher roles in the work place, feeling valued and respected by their male colleagues. The courage to smash the glass ceiling is an attitude all women should adopt and implement in their daily behaviour to succeed as a senior professional. 

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