9000 UK companies with more than 250 employees have had to state their gender pay figures before the deadline of midnight tonight. Some are holding back until the last possible minute, but of those already published 78% pay men more than women, 13% pay women more, and only 8% have no gender pay gap at all.
I am assuming that for the 78% of companies paying men more, all their employees are doing similar jobs, and so yes, it is an utter disgrace that in these days of equality women are largely still being paid less than men. Times have changed from when Dad came home from work at 6pm to his dinner already laid out on the table, children bathed and fresh-faced to greet him, and Mum knackered with the stress of cooking, cleaning, shopping, mending clothes, making the pennies last, giving the baby its night feeds, and keeping the older children in check.
Nowadays Dad could have buggered off to sire another crop of children with somebody else, leaving his first partner to either claim benefits or find a job so that she can shoulder the burden of parenthood alone if her partner is unwilling to pay towards his children’s upkeep. Generally it is not the case that a man is head of the household anymore. It is just as likely that a family now will consist of Mum and one or more children.
So it seems that when Mum eventually finds an employer who is willing to take her on knowing that she has children to feed (it took me 3 years to find one when I moved to my present location), she is most likely to be kicked in the teeth again by not being paid the same as her male colleague for doing a similar or equal job. She is so desperate for the money that she says nothing, signs her contract, and remains passive. This of course happens with career-minded women too, but thankfully Carrie Gracie at the BBC has managed to break through the secrecy surrounding male/female pay and decided to do something about it.
This has been the fate of many women – to remain passive, not to ask for a pay rise, and to accept whatever salary is given. Men on the other hand have a tendency to speak out more and demand a living wage and annual pay rises, especially if they need to pay money to one or more mothers for the upkeep of their children. Employers are still working on the old theory of the man being head of the household. It’s wrong!
I work for the NHS, which has structured pay scales so that everybody knows just how much somebody else is earning, whether male or female. For women who are not privy to this information, it’s time for them to speak out against gender pay gap discrimination. It’s starting to happen now that Ms Gracie has got the ball rolling. Good for her. May it snowball enough to cause an avalanche of disgruntled women demanding the same pay as men for doing a similar job. It’s only fair!