Gender pay gap. Does it really exist? Read our blog and decide for yourself

According to the Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) most recent gender salary survey the gap between what men and women earn stands at 23%. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has backed up that statistic with their survey too, stating that “on average, men are paid more than women”. Government regulations coming into force in April 2017 will require large employers to publicly report on salaries for each gender. The Government has suggested that championing gender equality will drive better employee engagement and as a result, improve productivity.

However, the statistics relating to gender and salary have been questioned by some, including a former Head of Age and Earnings Inequality at the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The statistics need to be scrutinised to determine if the gap is actually women being paid less for the same work as men or in general, women earning less than men. If it is the latter there could be a variety of reasons for this. Women often choose to work part time, therefore reducing their salary on a pro rata basis. This is not accounted for in the statistics. The biggest discrepancy in our labour market today is the gap between full time earners and part time earners rather than male and female earners – the focus on this issue has been highlighted with the publicity surrounding zero hours contracts.

Where there are clear statistics, they demonstrate that there are more men in senior and managerial jobs and more women in lower paid sectors such as care and administration. This clearly contributes to the gender pay gap; but we need to consider if this is often a matter of choice – there may still be specific roles which appeal more to women and men and vice versa?

The final area to consider is that the official figures on the gender pay gap show a larger discrepancy for women in their 50s than for women in their 20s, who are paid only 4% less than the average man in their age group, compared with 27% for those women in their 50s. Further, if the figures relating to part-time workers are removed, the gap all but disappears in the range of women aged 22 to 39.

Overall, in determining whether the gender pay gap really exists, perhaps Benjamin Disraeli was right – there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics!

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