Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Why You Need To Care About The Gender Pay Gap - And How To Combat It

Why You Need To Care About The Gender Pay Gap - And How To Combat It

The Debrief: The gap doesn’t affect women until they have kids - if they have kids - but that doesn’t mean the problems won’t trickle down. Here's what you can do to un-do the gender pay gap…

Did you know that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist for childless women? Yep, according to stats and stuff, young women can even, on average, out-earn their male colleagues. The gender pay gap does start to appear, though, after a woman has a child. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that after women become mothers, the hourly gap between earnings widens. After 12 years, women earn 33% less than men, reports the BBC. This is in part to do with women returning to part time work but also because they miss out on promotions.

But it’s more complicated than this - women are preferring to do part-time work in part because of rising childcare costs. You might wonder why you should care, but if this is an issue affecting some women, then it could affect you, regardless of how old you are or whether you plan to have kids or not.

It is currently illegal under discrimination law for employers to ask applicants if they’re going to get married or have kids. This is to stop people from refusing to employ women who might start a family and thus leave work for maternity leave. Sir Alan Sugar said the rule is ‘counterproductive to women’ because employers will think ‘easy - just don’t employ them’. While his suggestion of that law being scrapped won’t necessarily see the playing field leveled for women, so long as suspicions can arise about a woman’s 10-year life plan, and those suspicions can set her back - regardless of whether she wants a kid or not - something needs to change.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, tweeted her biggest issues with the pay gap and we’re going to provide some handy ways as to how you can help

Suggestion #1 - don’t just take the IFS’s word for it - the Trades Union Congress’s Frances O’Grady said: ‘It is scandalous that millions of women still suffer a motherhood pay penalty.’

Suggestion #2 - encourage girls into science and tech. Have a niece? Tell her she can do science just as well as her brothers and male schoolmates, get her a science book, show her pixelly YouTube videos of Sabrina the Teenage Witch so she can see aunt Zelda’s lab-top.

Suggestion #3 - lobby for men to have better paternity leave rights too! Equality is about making choices open for both men and women and the fact men are bullied into taking on breadwinner roles when they might want to look after their kids is unfair.

Suggestion #4 - it would be easy to say that you should look after your mates’/sisters’/whoever’s kids so as to lift the weight off of them. If you’re childless or not planning to have kids - maybe have a little sympathy when your friend can’t get a childminder. More on this later…

Suggestion #5 - if you’re part time, push to be paid at the same rate as those who are full time. That’s if you feel confident doing it…

Suggestion #6 - show your support for closing the gender pay gap by getting political. You can vote for the Women’s Equality Party. You can also get in touch with your own MP and ask them to get on board with closing the gender equality gap, or speak to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission or the Women and Equalities Committee. Just tell them how you feel, and that you want something done about it - your voice will be heard! 

Like this? You might also be interested in:

The One Thing That Might Actually Close The Gender Pay Gap

These Two Companise Claim To Have Eliminated The Gender Pay Gap

Stop Working From Today To Justify The Gender Pay Gap

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Work it, gender